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Students hone chaplaincy skills in the hospital setting through Spiritual Care Services program at BWFH

The Spiritual Care Services Department at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital provides patients, their family and friends and hospital staff with emotional, spiritual and religious support. Interfaith chaplain Regina Gavin, along with volunteer Eucharistic ministers, an on-call Roman Catholic priest and an on-call rabbi, assess and respond to religious or spiritual needs. This semester, two field education students from area seminaries and theology schools have also been available.

Sheila Cavanaugh, a mother of four children from Korea and Colombia, holds a BA from College of the Holy Cross and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. In May of 2018 she will graduate with a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from Boston College. “As part of my M.Div. program at BC, I received a year of training in Spiritual Direction, and have pursued two field education experiences in chaplaincy, one with the Northeast Correctional Center in Concord, Massachusetts, and my current one with BWFH,” she says.

Here at BWFH, Cavanaugh says, “Much of my chaplaincy focuses on offering compassionate care and practicing a ministry of presence so that patients know that they do not travel this journey alone. In addition to one-on-one visits with patients, I also facilitate a Spiritual Care Group in the substance use disorder unit. Each week I meet with a group of patients who gather to discuss strategies focused on reclaiming hope, meaning and a sense of purpose in lives deeply compromised by trauma.”

Cavanaugh says she most enjoys working as part of a multidisciplinary team in the hospital. “By working in tandem with different groups I have gained a better understanding of the vitality of multi-dimensional care across the physical, emotional, social and spiritual spectrum of life. I deeply value my time with patients. Every encounter is a potentially transformative moment of grace.”

Irene HajiGeorgi studied Art History and Spanish at Boston University as an undergraduate. She later completed her master’s degree in Art Education at Tufts University in conjunction with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She is currently working on an M.Div. degree at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She expects to graduate in May of 2019.

“I grew up Greek Orthodox Christian and, while I learned about my faith through the church via classes, community work and general participation in the sacraments, I felt I needed more formal training in order to serve Christ as a more authentic agent of His love for all people,” she says. “I felt something was missing and wanted to devote my time and energies to answer the call to serve in a fuller way, which continues to grow and develop more each day.”

Here at BWFH she is doing just that. “I am part of the Spiritual Care team of chaplains and chaplains in training,” she explains. “We make rounds and visit patients and their families for prayer and spiritual support. I enjoy sitting with patients and being a loving and prayerful presence for others. In these moments of pain and extreme vulnerability I do not take my role lightly as I feel it is an honor to be part of these situations. In fact, I feel that the patients teach me more about God’s boundless love every day in this interfaith environment. I am also enjoying the enriching opportunity to lead the Spirituality Group sessions on 2 South on Tuesdays. These are moments for reflection and community building amongst the patients and between the patients and the Spiritual Care team.”

In addition to the two field education students, the Reverend Father Elias Attah Ojomah recently joined the staff part-time. He is a Nigerian-born Catholic priest who studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 2004. He holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Philosophy, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Theology. Ojomah has completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education and is currently studying for his master’s degree in Pastoral Counselling at the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College.

“My passion in life is to care for all people and God has given me this opportunity to provide care by making me a chaplain at BWFH,” he says. “In life you will always be remembered for how much you have given, not how much you have received. I try to bring love, hope and a smile to my patients because I believe there is always a reason to smile.”

Spiritual Care Services Staff

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