In 1999 I found myself having worked in community health education for nearly five years. I had put my masters in social work and public health to good use, and I was, in some ways, content. However, I had a nagging feeling that there was something else for me to be doing with my life. Since high school, I had been interested in working in health care, and had also considered a career in ministry — even applying to several seminaries in the late 1980s. However, I knew that I didn't feel a call to parish ministry. Still, a voice was calling me — nudging me — to try something else. Since I was "between jobs" anyway, I took three months to do an internship in chaplaincy at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. I found in those months that chaplaincy felt like a good fit — that it used my gifts and talents, and it was also work about which I was passionate.
I believe that I am serving — patients, families, the community, the hospital, and the Church — by my work here.
I currently serve on a staff of 12 full and part-time hospital chaplains. My areas of specialization are in-patient hospice care, an oncology unit, out-patient oncology unit, and a palliative care service which consults with patients throughout the hospital. My days are rich and full. I consider it an honor and a privilege to journey with people in their days in the hospital, providing compassionate care, a listening ear, spiritual support, advice and advocacy.
I see my work as "diaconal" in so many ways. I believe that I am serving — patients, families, the community, the hospital, and the Church — by my work here. I am also clearly linking church and the world, as I work all day long with people, some of whom are connected to a particular faith community and others who aren't, but all of whom are separated physically from the things that give comfort and meaning to their lives. I see an important part of my job as assuring all whom I see and minister to that they are beloved children of God — something I do through providing a caring presence as well as through rituals and words and meaning-making. I love being a diaconal minister because I think that it allows me to use my best gifts in a job and profession to which I am well suited.