City Wide Chaplaincy Team Commissioned for Dublin Universities and Hospitals
A city wide chaplaincy team for Dublin was commissioned on Wednesday May 17 by the Archbishop of Dublin. The team covers both universities and hospitals and the chaplains have undertaken training in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute as part of a new initiative.
Archbishop Michael Jackson commissioned Susie Keegan (Dublin Institute of Technology), the Revd Rob Jones (Third Level Chaplaincy Team Leader), Sarah Marshall (DIT), the Revd Steve Brunn (Trinity College Dublin), Scott Evans (University College Dublin) and Philip McKinley (Dublin City University) in the area of Third Level Chaplaincy.
He commissioned Hilda Plant and Olwyn Lynch to work in the area of Hospital Chaplaincy.
The Archbishop thanked all who had worked tirelessly to bring the new chaplaincy team together paying particular tribute to those in the Dublin & Glendalough Diocesan Office, the Priorities Fund and the Allchurches Trust. He also thanked the Revd Rob Jones for the tremendous work he had done in developing the team.
Addressing the chaplains, Garda Darren Coventry–Howlett of the Garda Bureau of Community Diversity and Integration compared the roles of community policing and chaplaincy and said they were defined by their service to others. Often those involved in policing see people at their worst but their humanity is also there, he said. Those in chaplaincy meet people at their most vulnerable and how the chaplain responds shapes them, he explained adding that it is a matter of faith.
“The opportunities are amazing, in building bridges, in stepping outside our own personal bubble – it’s very easy to surround ourselves with people who believe the same as us – and in interfaith and intercultural engagement,” Garda Coventry–Howlett commented. “Interfaith and intercultural work is hard… but when you see it working it opens up your eyes to the potential and there is a great sense of joy when you see people coming together in shared purpose.”
Among the pitfalls of chaplaincy, the Garda suggested, was the feeling that it is something that has to be done alone and said the chaplains should never be afraid to reach out to others. He said expectations also had to be managed and being open to sharing the views of others was a challenge as was building trust.
He concluded with words of encouragement: “Embrace your vocation in a world that doesn’t acknowledge the idea that you do this for others. You have an opportunity to embrace the idea that you want to be in the service of others. It’s a hard road but it’s worth walking because it does sustain your faith”.
Archbishop Jackson thanked Garda Coventry–Howlett for actively seeking to help those being commissioned to find their place, engage in society and know they have support. “You have helped us to see vital connections: the relationship between God and Creation and the Holy and domestic is something we should cherish and develop within the context of and Ireland that is self–secularising. We should not be silenced to a faith that is the heartbeat of who they are or who we are,” he said.
The Archbishop added that interfaith engagement meant engaging with people of difference on a level playing field and building community. As with much of ministry, he said, it is about empowering, enriching and equipping others.
Following the commissioning Sarah Marshall and Hilda Plant spoke about their hopes and aspirations for their respective roles.
Sarah said that chaplaincy was the ministry of presence and that was her hope for her role in DIT. She said that she hoped to bring a presence of space and a flavour of God and for people to feel connected. She said she wanted to engage with the real issues on campus and create a space where people can have conversations about these issues.
In the hospital setting, Hilda said she had had the privilege to journey with people at the end of their lives. People believe that everyone has family with them at the end of life but some people don’t. “They have come to a place where in their dying moments want prayer and it is a privilege to be there with them at the end of their journey,” she said.