A minister journeys 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 experiencing a health crisis. I found 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 in both English and Spanish. 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, and a hospital for women and newborns. 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. 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.
Pastoral care happens in many spaces in a congregation: during joys and sorrows in the service, in the receiving line after worship, making visits to the hospital or to a member who is home bound, and working with families to plan a celebration of life. I currently work closely with the Lay Ministry team to support the members of our congregation. We meet monthly to learn together, provide support, and coordinate care. I facilitate training for lay ministers, and love cultivating other’s capacity to do this work. 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.