A minister walks alongside their community, offering support, deep listening, and compassion in times of joy and suffering. We need each other to celebrate life’s milestones and to comfort one another when dealing with loss, challenges, and death.
I gained extensive experience and training in pastoral care as a Chaplain Intern, and then a Chaplain Resident. As an intern, I served in Home Health, visiting people in their homes who were unable to go out and grappling with the aftermath of a health crisis. I learned to listen deeply to people's stories, about the power of being present with someone, especially when they are experiencing loneliness and isolation, and about how prayer and spiritual practice can help us cope in the most vulnerable moments of our lives. I learned to facilitate pastoral care conversations in English, and in my second language, Spanish. And I found great meaning in supporting people to reflect on their lives, to grieve their losses, and to make sense of their life experiences and stories through their faith tradition.
As a Chaplain Resident, I served mostly in a hospital setting, with my primary units being oncology, end of life, and two medical-surgical floors. I also provided spiritual care in a mental health hospital, hospital for women and newborns, and to all units of the medical hospital during the weekends and on my on-call shifts. Through this work I learned to provide pastoral care in the midst of crisis, to be a calming presence in the trauma room, to support people in grappling with life-threatening diagnoses, to help patients and their families prepare for death, and to support families with rites of passage at the bedside before and after the death of a beloved family member.
Pastoral care is sacred work. It is about being with each other in moments of brokenness, while seeing our essential wholeness. It is about trusting the wisdom inside the person you are sitting with, and creating space for their insights, stories and feelings to emerge. So much of pastoral care is about being willing to show up, to not turn away from suffering, and to believe in the possibility of healing; not always in the body, but almost always possible in the spirit, mind or emotions. It is about being willing to have your heart broken open, and to know how to care for yourself so that you can continue to show up for others. As I provide pastoral care, I seek to be able to accept what is, and to affirm the ways that we can make small choices each day that foster resilience, love, and healing for ourselves and others.
My experience providing pastoral care in people's homes and in the hospital has prepared me to do this work as a parish Minister; to provide spiritual counsel at the church office, a pastoral presence in the receiving line after church, to make visits to members who are home bound, and to be with a family in crisis in the hospital. Serving as an interfaith chaplain has taught me how to provide spiritual support to people from a diversity of theological backgrounds and about how to lead ritual that honors someone's life in a way that is meaningful. I am excited about training others in the art of deep listening, and welcome the opportunity to form a lay pastoral care team in a congregation. Ultimately, I believe pastoral care is one of the most important aspects of ministry; knowing how to be there for another person when they need it most.