Leuven, September 26, 2010
It has been a week since we closed the 10th consultation of our network in London. And what a consultation it has been! I would first of all like to thank the organizing team again for their wonderful work. Debbie and Jennifer made London worthwhile because of their tireless dedication.
During our time in London we expressed our appreciation for the ten years of leadership provided by Father Stavros Kofinas, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. His perseverance, insights and willingness to be our coordinator brought the network to where it is today. I wish him a beautiful journey as a coordinator of the Network of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Pastoral Health Care. We also honored Kirsti Aalto (Finland) and Fred Coutts (webmaster) for their dedication to the network.
The introductions, witnesses from different countries, the small groups, and the plenary discussions in London showed the rich diversity and the many common grounds between the chaplaincies in Europe. As a new coordinator I will continue to provide room for the richness in the group and will try to translate some of that richness into the growth of our profession. There were a lot of excellent suggestions for the future of the network. I will take some of them as a priority: strengthening our ties by a newsletter or journal, initiating working groups and sharing existing research tools for spiritual care. One of the most important tasks ahead is to keep the profession of chaplain for future generations of patients, families and staff. The room for spirituality is a necessary one in the context of healing.
The newly elected committee will start reflecting and working on the next consultation in 2012 in The Netherlands. We thank our Dutch friends for inviting us. Those of you who did not make it to the London consultation: we missed you and we hope to see you in The Netherlands in 2012! We are grateful for all those countries and organizations who participated in the consultation for the first time or whose participants renewed their interest: Cyprus, Lithuania, Poland, Luxemburg and the Vatican. Please come again! I also want to express my gratitude to the American representatives who travel far to keep the ties between our organizations.
Let me conclude with the profound wish that London has brought enrichment to you personally, to your organization and to your chaplaincy.
Blessings to each of you as you continue to care for patients, families, staff and chaplains
Dr. Anne Vandenhoeck
Coordinator of the European Network of HealthCare Chaplaincy