By the Way: The vocation of chaplaincy
In my position as chaplain at Medicine Hat College, I’m fond of telling people I have the best job in the world providing spiritual support and guidance to the community there.
It’s been a year since I was granted this position by the board of the Medicine Hat Ecumenical Campus Ministry Society. In that time, I’ve learned that even though I’m the face of the chaplaincy, the vocation of chaplaincy at the college is not about me. Rather, chaplaincy is fundamentally about relationships.
It’s about meeting and talking with people who might never enter a church if not for a wedding or a funeral. It’s about setting aside notions of what people ‘should’ be doing in relation to the faith they profess. It’s about seizing the moment and getting to the heart of the matter in discussions about life, suffering, and spirituality when people are in need, or they simply need to vent.
As a colleague said recently in this space, we live in a secular age characterized by myriad forms of human spirituality, but religious practice in its traditional form — what we’ve come to recognize as organized religion — is proving to be on the wane.
This is not to say that religion and religious observance are due to disappear; rather, even as so many other areas of our society and culture are undergoing vast and widespread change, it remains true that people still seek religious experience. The difference is not in the what, but the how. What is often sought is an experience of individual connection to the Divine — that which believers are wont to call God or Creator. What’s more, they seek a connection which is no less reverent, but which transcends the confines of established, traditional forms of worship.
Chaplaincy is by nature an embedded ministry. In communities such as schools and colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, the military, and even correctional facilities, chaplains are in the privileged position of meeting people where they live and work.
Chaplains are a comforting and healing witness to human joys and sorrows, and are well acquainted with the difficulties and brokenness of individuals in their communities. Inclusive, multi-faith chaplains are able to engage with all members of their community and provide a safe and supportive context where real-life issues can be discussed outside the limits of any particular dogmatic focus. Where such a focus is required or helpful, chaplains are able to refer people in turn to leaders in the appropriate faith community.
Human beings are innately spiritual. To paraphrase Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “we are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience.” Human beings are continually seeking peace. God willing, the vocation of a chaplain is to connect people with the form of spirituality that will work best for each individual, for fostering that peace in all our lives, in our families, and in our world.
Today, may you find peace in your experience of the Divine.
Time of Prayer
The weekly Time of Prayer session offered in the Interfaith Room (F155) on Mondays has been extended. It now runs from 12:05 until 12:25 p.m. to allow more time for sharing concerns and for prayer. Please contact Chaplain Kristy with any questions or concerns at 403.581.8199 (call or text) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday to Thursday: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
(Emails, calls and texts accepted until 4p.m.)
Chaplain Kristy may be contacted for appointments:
Phone or text: 403.581.8199