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Is anyone here working as a Chaplain?

(8 Posts)
Movablefeast Tue 10-Oct-17 04:38:50

In any setting? I am Catholic and currently studying Pastoral Studies in the USA. I had never thought about chaplaincy but am starting to become very interested. I would need to switch to an M Div. Would love to hear your feedback.

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Wed 11-Oct-17 09:32:51

Hi. I'm in the UK and I have worked as a hospital chaplain and hospice chaplain. For both I would strongly recommend volunteering first as it doesn't suit everyone. All the book learning in the world doesn't prepare you for the reality of end of life. I just did adults. A friend of mine had four baby/child deaths in one morning in a large hospital. You need to know yourself very well, have good spiritual ,direction and pastoral supervision and be prepared for days when nothing goes as you expect.

I've often fancied working in one of the big Oxford Colleges as a chaplain but I'd probably be rubbish at it.

Fink Wed 11-Oct-17 09:53:41

I used to be a school chaplain. I'd love to try prison chaplaincy but I can't find a way into it as they seemed to want exclusively ordained clergy (I'm an RC laywoman).

I've also done a bit of volunteering with hospital visiting, with the SVP rather than as a chaplain. I really enjoyed it but I would second everything greenheart says above about it not being for everyone and the support needed.

Why don't you try a voluntary position for a while to gain experience and let you see if it would be a viable option?

I wouldn't say no to Oxford college chaplaincy either, if it were offered. I have a very good friend doing it who loves it. Unlikely though as an RC. I nearly went for a university chaplaincy job last year but the hours & location wouldn't have worked until dd gets a bit older.

Fink Wed 11-Oct-17 10:00:28

Sorry, posted too soon - what I meant to add was to look at how a chaplaincy role would fit into your home life. If you have/will soon have children then think about the irregular hours in many forms of chaplaincy. It was great when I was with ex-h as he had a regular office hours type job so there was quite often one of us at home to care for dd and a cm available for the other times. When he left it was very difficult as out-of-hours childcare is almost impossible to come by so I really could have done with a job which didn't involve working evenings and nights. Chaplaincy often also includes weekend working. I'm lucky in that I can bring dd along to most things with me if I need to, but obviously this would not be appropriate in other settings.

Toddlerteaplease Wed 11-Oct-17 16:58:30

Several of my friends are lay chaplains in schools and the hospital I work in has lots of chaplaincy volunteers.

Movablefeast Thu 12-Oct-17 06:09:44

Thanks everyone. I am at the very beginning of thinking about this. In the US I get the impression that you cannot volunteer as a chaplain in hospitals or prisons easily as you need to show you are properly trained and certified before they let you lose in into the middle of someone's crisis. Maybe at nursing homes and less high risk situations. When I say risk, I mean risk on both sides. If the chaplain was insensitive or overwhelmed or was uninformed about religions other than their own they may not be pastorally helpful and could end up making a drama out of a crisis, or at the very least upsetting someone.

I have to find out more. There is specialized training you have to fulfill and employers ask for it. In hospitals you would be available to patients, family and staff so you need to be mature and also certified by your religious body if you are Catholic, Jewish or Islamic as each faith has their own requirements before they will give you authority to represent them. Many women work in leadership roles in the church over here and many have an M. Div (Masters in Divinity) which in a Protestant context would qualify you as a pastor.

I will be chatting to my academic adviser who is director of formation at my college so she can advise me. You can't just join the Chaplaincy Program, they screen you to make sure you are suitable.

Our diocese also runs a program for training and supporting lay ministers and I think if the accept you they will pay toward your studies. Chaplains are generally paid with a graduate degree and plenty of pastoral experience over here.

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Thu 12-Oct-17 09:06:07

The UK has a very different system of healthcare to,the US so,that affects our chaplaincy models. We usually have a very small team of paid chaplains with trained and unpaid volunteers. Training is often in house. We don't have many lead lay Chaplains.

What you need is a mature faith. A real love of people. An ability to listen and work in a team. You need a high level of self awareness. What you can't do in the UK context is evangelise and this can prove difficult for,those in the evangelical or Protestant stream. You are there to,accompany and not to proselytise. I love it. The down side in the UK is that housing is not provided and it is not well paid enough to,live in a city where the big hospitals are.

Movablefeast Thu 12-Oct-17 15:04:30

Thank you Greenheart, I would say the skills and role of Chaplain is exactly the same. I would imagine that anyone believing it would be appropriate to evangelize would be screened out. The housing and pay situation are the same here, although the pay is probably slighted higher and these positions usually have solid benefits such as pensions etc.

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