Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chaplain's Statement of Ministry

The image of Jesus as Healer speaks to me of how we work as a team in the ministry of healing and how the Lord guides my own practice.  I am already bound by a series of statements through my commitment to the Roman Catholic Church, the Dominican Order, the Congregation of the Queen of the Holy Rosary, and my local community at Saint Mary Magdalen. These multiple layers of commitment shape and hold my way of encountering, relating and ministering to others as well as my spirit of openness to change and personal vulnerability. I am incorporating these commitments into my commitment as a hospital chaplain.

As a Roman Catholic I believe in one God who created all that is visible and invisible, and in Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of God’s Love.  I believe in the mystical body of Christ living and effective in the world in ways beyond our imagining.  I believe in the Holy Spirit and the Communion of Saints and I am sustained by daily Eucharist and the liturgical prayer of the Church.  I have a special love for Mary, the Mother of God and her mystical path of humility, suffering and compassion.  I believe in the power of forgiveness to bring about healing, resurrection and the hope of eternal life. I believe in the contribution of the Catholic intellectual tradition and the application of reason and science in the search for faith and understanding.  I believe in a multicultural pluralistic society and interfaith dialogue for the common good of all humanity and all creation. 

As a Dominican Sister of the Queen of the Holy Rosary Congregation, my desire is to honor the shared experience of this year of prayer, study, ministry and community by being fully present and engaged in the ministry of spiritual care of patients in the hospital. It is the Dominican way to speak the truth with compassion, recognizing that the truth is always multifaceted. I know that I can only see the truth partially through my own uniquely tinted lenses, and I rely on the witness of others to gain a better understanding of the whole truth.  The Dominican motto “to praise, to bless, to preach” guides my spiritual practice.  I strive to think kindly of all, to see people in the best light, to be a blessing through my way of being, especially to those who are marginalized or discounted by others and to preach the teachings of Jesus in word and action.  Our congregational mission reminds me to be especially mindful of the needs of the young, the poor and the vulnerable in my ministry.  Our direction statement identifies me as a “Woman of the Word, uniquely individual, who reaches out to spread the light.”  In the spirit of this statement, I value the uniqueness of each individual and strive to honor God’s creative spirit within all of creation. 

With my community at Saint Mary Magdalen in Berkeley, I am responding to God’s gifts to me by choosing to stretch beyond my present limits to share Christ’s light with the world.  My value for integrity informs me to do that in a way that can be blended harmoniously with the light of other faiths.  Accepting the interconnectedness of all life, I take responsibility for the choices I make and understand that my choices impact the life of the planet.  While I am open to being changed by the wisdom of others, I am defined by my vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our Holy Father Dominic and to the Prioress of our Congregation and her successors. The tenets of the Roman Catholic faith and the charism of the Dominican Order are clearly identified and I am bound by them. 

These are the beliefs, values and considerations that underlie my mission of service as a chaplain.  My main purpose as a member of the health care team is to address the spiritual aspects of health.  This year of study and service as a chaplain will build upon my previous training as a Navy chaplain and service to my local community at St. Joseph Priory.  My hope is to be certified as a chaplain and find a position working in a hospital in the Bay area next year. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Learning Goal #1 Walking the Bridge

I am a pedestrian on a new bridge that is being built between teams with different approaches to spiritual and pastoral care. The contemplative dialogue skills are a help. 

I will take time to notice defended and non-defended responses and energy among volunteers and staff;  identify values, assumptions, inferences and feelings in a non-judgmental way; look with compassion on all parties involved especially in polarized situations; check out biases and inferences in tense situations; let go of fears and hoped for outcomes and accept all with gratitude; and teach contemplative dialogue skills to the members of the spiritual care team.
My goal is to be able to communicate more mindfully and contribute to peaceful communication in tense and/or polarized situations between the two teams.

Learning Goal #2 Team Approach

I am beginning to understand the roles of the other members of the Interdisciplinary Team and how they work together, so that I can participate effectively and make a positive contribution to the overall care of patients and their families. 

I will meet the doctors, nurses, social workers, case managers, dieticians and housekeepers on the interdisciplinary teams on my floors; participate weekly in interdisciplinary rounds and staff meetings; reflect on participation in interdisciplinary rounds with my individual supervisor; and identify areas for growth and role play an interdisciplinary round with the spiritual care team
My goal is to be able to participate in weekly rounds effectively and collaborate with other members of the Interdisciplinary Team in the care of patients I visit.

Learning Goal #3 Emotional Mindfulness

I want to be able to enter into what patients with cancer are feeling because this is essential to offering  compassionate spiritual care for them. I want to be mindful of what I am feeling and help patients and family members who are dealing with cancer identify and share their own feelings.  

I want to notice the emotions that come up for me as I offer spiritual care to cancer patients and their family members and reflect upon them; observe words, signs, body language, facial expressions and tone of patients and their family members and confer with them about their feelings; and process the observations and reflections that come up in myself, patients and family members with the spiritual care team and my supervisor to improve my practice of spiritual care.       

My goal is to be able to identify and share my own feelings about cancer and help cancer patients and their families identify and share what they are feeling.