OCA Department of Institutional Chaplaincies represented at “Spiritual Care Collaborative Summit ‘09”

An historical “first” happened within the expanding group of institutional chaplains during the “Spiritual Care Collaborative Summit ‘09,” held here February 1 to 4, 2009. The focus of this summit was, ” Health and Hope: The Hard Reality of Living Intentionally in a Village of Care.” The gathering of at least six different credentialing bodies for chaplaincy from the United States and Canada drew over 1800 participants. Plenary presentations and workshops, in addition to dialogue within and between the credentialing bodies’ representatives, were conducted over a number of days.

OCA Department of Institutional Chaplaincies
Pictured: (left to right): Archpriest Steven Voytovich, Director of Pastoral Care and Education at The Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, CT, and Chair of the OCA’s Department of Institutional Chaplaincy; Sarah Byrne, chaplain at New York University Medical Center, New York, NY; Archpriest John Maxwell, chaplain at St. Edward Mercy Medical Center at Fort Smith, AR, and ;. Fr. Sergius Clark, Acting Department Director of St. Vincent’s Healthcare/St. Luke’s Hospital in Jacksonville, FL.

One event that is usually part of any chaplaincy gathering is the faith tradition breakfast, during which members of specific faith traditions typically gather with their endorsing representatives to discuss common issues. For the first time four OCA institutional chaplains met for breakfast during this summit, at which time they shared experiences from their unique hospital settings and reflected on their experience at conference. Special Orthodox Chaplain pins were shared to distinguish the four Eastern Orthodox chaplains in the midst of all the chaplains gathered. The pin arose from the initial gathering of Orthodox military and institutional chaplains at St. Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery in November 2006.

At a Pre-Conference Workshop, Sarah Byrne offered a presentation titled “Sing When the Spirit Says Sing: Clinical Applications of Music in Spiritual Care.” The interactive workshop explored ways in which chaplains can incorporate music into their pastoral practice as a resource in end-of-life care, grief support, spirituality groups, psychiatry, and other areas. Ms. Byrne was also appointed to the Association of Professional Chaplains Commission on Advocacy [APC] as the Promotional Advocacy Chair. In this position, she will focus on promoting professional chaplaincy to hospital administrators by updating the APC website and researching studies that demonstrate the value of spiritual care.

All four Orthodox chaplains were grateful for the opportunity to share in fellowship and to reflect on the many steps that have been taken for the Orthodox Church to be among the faith traditions represented in the gathering.

Article and photo: Fr. Steven Voytovich