Called to Minister to Everyone, Irrespective of Beliefs, Lifestyle


Listening ear . . . Reverend Canon Maureen Cribb has a kind and compassionate bedside manner when...
Listening ear . . . Reverend Canon Maureen Cribb has a kind and compassionate bedside manner when talking to patients. PHOTO: THE STAR
I am new to my role as Chaplain to Maori, joining the Rev Canon Bella Morrell, who has been Maori Chaplain to Dunedin and Wakari hospitals for eight years.

Bella is a passionate inspiration to the work of chaplaincy, who continues to offer wisdom and guidance in her crucial ministry to patients, their whanau and those working within the hospital environment.

In the spirit of love and inclusion, my ecumenical values have called me to minister to all peoples, irrespective of position, beliefs or lifestyle.

A chaplain’s role embraces the philosophy that there is one God whom we all serve and worship and chaplains serve the people — people of faith and no faith, people of different cultures —offering pastoral and spiritual care wherever appropriate with compassion and cultural sensitivity.

This support is aligned to a holistic approach that seeks to bring a balance of the body, soul, spirit, mind and the healing presence of Christ, to whanau, or other significant loved ones.

There is also the inclusion of pertinent organisations and medical specialists that may be required to create a wraparound service that can extend beyond the hospital environment.

Chaplaincy is a privileged responsibility. In its most practical application, it is being present, ‘‘kanohi kitea’’ by permission.

It is very much a patient-led activity, being available to sit beside people, servant-hearted, prepared to be pastorally proactive and spiritually reactive.

Chaplains recognise that coming into hospital can cause people to feel anxious, fearful and unsure of their circumstances and, at times, feel quite lonely.

Coupled with physical trauma, there are often wounds that cannot be seen; grief, rejection, anger, frustration and fear, to name a few.

Chaplaincy services staff counsel on spiritual and personal concerns and offer support with advocacy and mediation.

My own experience of caring for a whanau member who battled cancer for 11 months highlighted the need for the service of chaplains and I saw how her faith gave her the courage to face each day and to rise above her circumstances.

Frequently there are encounters with many patients who draw on their spirituality, karakia, prayers and specific rituals that are the foundation and at the heart of their healing. Importantly for Maori, the invocation of culturally based protocols are central to issues of grief, loss and change.

A wise person once told me people can be allergic to chaplains but they are less inclined to be allergic to kindness.

Therefore, I value and practice the ‘‘kind treatment’’.

A kind, compassionate bedside manner cannot be underestimated. When there is a genuine effort made to respectfully get to know our patients, be friendly, empathise and communicate, listen to them and respond to their needs, the kind treatment can lead to powerful healing outcomes.

Chaplains work collaboratively with other specialists, doctors and nurses.

I regularly seek assistance from the hospital’s Maori health team, who provide a very important wider generic service for patients.

There is a dedicated multi-skilled team of ecumenical chaplains available of varying denominations and a marvellous group of trained, volunteer, chaplaincy assistants.

At a patient’s request, contact is made to their own faith leaders for assistance.

Chaplaincy services are extremely grateful for the support of our local chaplaincy trust, (which is at the helm of ensuring high standards of practice), local parishes, individuals and our wonderful community.

Kia ora rawa atu koutou katoa.

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