Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 20, 2006
Hospital patients benefit from a present priest
Priest educated in clinical pastoral education ministers at two local hospitals
By BILL GLEN
"I listen to their stories and their openness."
- Fr. William Hann
"It is hard work, but it is good clinical learning, building on the theological education priests receive and then bring it into a context of operationalizing their theology," Clark said. "It draws on the behavioural sciences to understand the human person as well as self and the divine in terms of care for others."
Hann's duties include baptisms, particularly when the newborn is in intensive care, and funerals. And in two weeks, he will perform a wedding in the hospital.
"In our changing society when the (population) is getting older, I think it is important that the Church put in the time and resources to have a priest in the hospital who is open to the CPE component. It will not only make him a better person, but it will make a more effective voice for his pastoral and personal identity," Hann said.
"A hospital is an acute, intense place where people experience trauma. A challenge for me is when I see children struggle. That's why I think it's important that the two components be linked together."
Chaplains who successfully complete CPE training can be certified through the Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice and Education (CAPPE) in Halifax. The association is a multifaith organization committed to the professional education, certification and support of people involved in spiritual and religious care and pastoral counselling.
Priestly training does not necessarily prepare one to work in an acute-care hospital, said the Rev. Paul Bergen, pastoral care manager of the U of A's aboriginal and multicultural services.
"CPE training is a benefit to the priest and the broader Catholic Church," Bergen said. "There can be a heavy load here - a lot of need.
"We saw our Catholic patients who were in crisis expecting to be administered to by the Church in ways they have been taught. We bring the Eucharist every day, but there are sacraments that require a priest," he said.
"It was a challenge to find a priest who could make time to be here and respond to calls that come late at night or on weekends."
Hann's daily rounds bring comfort to the patients, Bergen said. In intensive care, for example, there may be a Roman Catholic patient whose prognosis is not positive. Hann can put the patient and his family at ease by asking them if they would like the Anointing of the Sick during the day, while he was present.
"Father William is able to meet and pray with them through the day at a time of relative strength rather than at a moment of crisis at 2 a.m.," Bergan said.
About every six weeks, Hann and Clark meet with Father Greg Bittman, chancellor of the archdiocese, to discuss the program to see what is working and what is not.
"We discuss how to improve this new journey we are on," Hann said. "I think it provides hope and emphasizes the importance that the people of God be aware continually that this is necessary and valuable."
Hann encourages anyone with a call to chaplaincy who would like to learn more about clinical pastoral education, to call the pastoral care office at the U of A Hospital at 407-8477.
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