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Outlook
News and views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
Issue 10 Winter 2009

The Healthcare Chaplain

Mission has been described as "one beggar showing another where to get bread". The role of the Healthcare Chaplain can be seen in a similar way, perhaps as a companion on a journey, sharing the experience.

Healthcare Chaplains are pastoral support workers in a secular environment, seeking to meet the spiritual needs of people of all faiths and none. They offer support to patients, relatives, carers and staff members at every stage of the journey through illness and death, and continue to support them through bereavement. The chaplaincy team at Ipswich Hospital provides this service to the hospital community and to the users, carers and staff of St Clements Hospital.

There are so many ways in which support can be offered and given, and, equally, there are so many things that take place during the "average" working day to keep the chaplains on their toes! Many people view the chaplains role as essentially sacramental, offering Holy Communion, prayer and corporate acts of worship to the hospital community. The chaplain is also seen as a "spiritual presence" within the hospital setting, sometimes known as "loitering with intent". While this essential ministry will remain, chaplains now have to offer a wider service to their community one example is the provision of sacred spaces for the multi-faith community.

It became clear to the hospitals Equality and Diversity Group that there was a need for a "reflective garden" an accessible space created for the hospital community for quiet times of prayer and personal reflection. We felt that it would be good to include a "labyrinth" as a focus for prayer while walking around the garden. We also felt that people would want places to sit and pray among plants that created a peaceful setting. We plan to open this garden (which is still in progress) at our annual Inter-Faith event on 20 November at 3.00 pm. Everyone is invited to attend.

We greatly value all the support given to us by the East Suffolk churches, and would encourage you to keep us in your prayers. Although there are many challenges ahead, we know that the Lord who called us to this work will sustain us and give us his grace in every situation.