At Saint Mary’s we recognize the connection between the body, the mind and the spirit. That has been at the core of our faith-based tradition for more than 80 years. We recognize that physical illness or injuries can leave emotional scars as well as spiritual turmoil. What does a patient believe in? What do they not believe in? Above all we demonstrate an enormous respect for each patient’s belief system.
“What helps to define my job as a chaplain? Being a good listener is first on the list for me,” says Rev. Philip Joly, the director of Pastoral Care at Saint Mary’s. “More often than not our patients simply want someone to sit, be present, and listen to them. There is an enormous amount of healing that can be brought about by a kind ear.”
We have two chapels at St. Mary’s to afford visitors and patients a quiet refuge if they so desire. There is a small chapel for quiet prayer and meditation on the First Floor near the Interfaith Elevators, and it is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
A Catholic Mass is celebrated at 12 noon Monday – Friday in the Convent Chapel at the rear of St. Mary’s campus. All are welcome.
Our staff chaplains are available from 9am – 5pm Monday - Friday to offer support and comfort, spiritual guidance, or that friendly ear mentioned above. There is always a chaplain on-call in the evenings and on weekends for emergencies. If you would like a chaplain to visit you or a loved one, please call our office at (561) 882-6343.
What is Pastoral Care? Rev. Philip Joly has this to say, “A very dry encyclopedia-like definition reads something like this: ‘The caring modality in which personal connection is the primary goal of interaction,’ which to me is not very helpful. Another definition I have found describes pastoral care as ‘intentional friendship and support,’ which is certainly more relatable. However, I believe that the best description I have ever heard came from my predecessor, Rev. Aidan Lacy, when he called it ‘Loitering with intent!’ “
And “loitering with intent” goes a long way in illustrating what we do as professional chaplains at St. Mary’s. It means that we do not sit in our office all day waiting for the phone to ring. It means that we get out on the floors, we round the units, and we make ourselves visible to patients, their families and staff alike. The Spirit goes where it wills as Scripture says, and very often our seemingly random travels bring us right to where we need to be.
All of our chaplains our professionals and bring with them a wealth of experience. Their only desire is to meet the needs of anyone, be they patients, visitors, or staff who request their services. They provide many different forms of support from trauma and grief counseling, spiritual assessment and crisis intervention to name a few. And again, they have the utmost respect for all religious Traditions.
Leaving a Path of Light
Rev. Philip Joly, director of Pastoral Care at St. Mary’s shares the following:
English writer John Ruskin (1819-1900) tells a wonderful story of what working as a hospital chaplain means for me. He tells how in olden days, streets had gas lamps. And each evening a lamplighter would go from lamp to lamp with a burning torch and light them up.
One evening Ruskin was sitting on a hill over-looking the town in which he lived and he was watching the lamplighter at work as the sun dipped beneath the horizon. Actually Ruskin could not see the lamplighter, because it was now dark. He only saw the torch and the trail of lit lamps that he left along the way.
Then Ruskin commented to a friend sitting with him and said, "There's a good illustration of a Christian. People may never have known him, they may never have met him, they many never even have seen him, but they know he passed through their world by the trail of lights he left behind him."
You could substitute any number of religious Traditions into that quote, and it would still hold true. A person of faith (and by no means must it be a perfect faith), a person of pure intentions and compassion and openness, leaves a distinct trail of light in their wake. And this is purely unintentional on their part. I can only speak from my experience as a Catholic Christian, but the tenets of “love God (whatever and whoever your image of God is) and love your neighbor as yourself” are fairly universal among the world’s religions. This kind of love does not seek anything for itself. It is always for the other. Hence, the ‘trail of light’ is only seen by the person who received it, and often this is in hindsight.
I came to St. Mary’s in 2011 (10 years ago as of this writing) from having worked in parish ministry for 10 years prior. My vocation was at a crossroads of sorts. I felt a pull in a direction away from parish life, and that pull was coming from the realm of healthcare, specifically from a hospice perspective. My first experience with hospice had been when my father was dying from lung cancer. This was a good 11 years before I would be ordained a priest, but it had a lasting impact on me. As a seminarian student and later as a priest a significant portion of my ministry had gravitated towards care for the sick and the dying. I became involved as a volunteer chaplain with the local hospice organization close to the parish I was serving. I also brought along my Siberian Husky, Mischa, who was a certified therapy dog. She opened many a door for me to connect with patients and their families.
So, when my friend of many years, Rev. Aidan Lacy, (the previous director of Pastoral Care) offered me a job as a chaplain here at St. Mary’s I jumped for it. The light that is St. Mary’s led me here. Is there a path of light left by my fellow chaplains? Absolutely! Does that light radiate from our medical staff? Most certainly! However, the brightest path of lights come from the patients I am able to visit, as well as from their families. That light shines from the parents keeping vigil over their one-pound preemie baby girl in our NICU. That light flows from the young trauma victim who has lost an arm and a leg in a freak accident, and his response to that news is, “I’m going to be awesome!” The lamp is lit by the estranged adult daughter and son of an abusive father saying to him “Dad, we forgive you. We set you free,” as he lay in a coma brought on by a fatal stroke. And it bursts from the heart of a grieving father who prays at the bedside of his teenage son for those others who will receive the gift of life from his donated organs.
For me the privilege of working as a hospital chaplain is not about leaving a trail of lights for someone else, (I can only hope I have), but rather it is being able to walk in that path of light left for me by the people I am led to within these hallowed walls.