Home > Apostalic Work, prayer, SEMINARY LIFE > being a summer chaplain with poverty

being a summer chaplain with poverty

I found an article in the Florida Catholic about Jim Grebe, a 3rd year Theologian seminarian at St Vincent DePaul Regional Seminary, whose summer assignment was a chaplain at Baptist Hospital in Pensacola.  It reminded me of my own experience over this past summer at IPF as a volunteer chaplain 2 afternoon each week at Alegent Health Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha, NE.

090228_IPF-Hospital-Pastoral-group-1As a strong introvert, my assignment at a hospital was a welcomed challenge that transformed any “preparations” that I could have made into simple “presence and prayer” that I had to rest in to make it through fruitfully.  My general progression was from Post-Intensive Care (PINS), Physical Rehab, Cancer, ICU and then Behavioral Health (mostly adults).  Each unit, as well as each individual room, brought their own challenges and blessings.  Going into rooms “cold” without much knowledge of condition or spiritualities left me at the mercy of Christ dependent on Him and allow the Holy Spirit to work without having to “try so hard” under my own abilities.

In identifying the poverty in those I ministered to, I came to recognize my own poverty that brings empathy with the poverty of Christ.  As I was stepping out in faith “giving” ministry unselfishly, I identified with the “heart of Christ” — then, in reflection, the receiving became more pure and made me more receptive to pure desires with greater confidence in the Spirit.  I found that praying within my own poverty opened opportunities in intimate relationship with God both in private prayer and with those ministered to.

On strong example was my first experience with a patient in ICU on a respirator, unable to speak a response to the open-ended questions I was trained to ask.  I quickly retreated in fear to my superior Josh, who help adjust my approach and engagement.  I returned to the patient with slightly more confidence in myself while becoming growingly dependent on the Holy Spirit to fill my poverty in encountering the non-verbal Christ with my “heart of Christ” in a distinct moment of Presence in my presence.  Using simple words of encouragement to comfort, taking time to ask important yes/no questions, and listening to the feeling of a hand-squeeze for an answer was a moment of fullness of grace.  Taking the experience to prayer and spiritual direction was easily seen as a growing echo to listen less to the words of my thoughts and more to the feelings of my heart when discerning with perseverance to God’s voice to me.

Thank you to all that ministered to me in the experience … Hospital staff, Pastoral Ministry staff, IPF staff and the Archdiocese of Miami for sending me on assignment.  I was truly blessed and I prayer all that I touched were indeed “touched” as I was.

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  1. santiagoraj
    October 26, 2009 at 5:59 am

    you are god’s work. keep it up…………………..

  2. santiagoraj@gmail.com
    January 22, 2011 at 6:32 am

    bravo u r doing good for jesus…. may god bless your endeavour……thankyou

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