The 8th Consultation of the

European Network of Health Care Chaplaincy

The Consultation took place in All Hallows College, Dublin, Ireland 1- 5 September 2004


Growing together in our pain: Differences and tensions in healthcare chaplaincy in Europe

Coordinator’s remarks before final discussion

We as chaplains deal with pain on a daily level, both with the pain that results in growth and in the pain that expresses illness and leads to death. Within the past two and a half days, in taking the pain of listening and understanding each other, we have grown together because we have painfully struggled to constructively recognize that there are differences and tensions that effect how we are accepted and/or separated
· in all the levels of the “Cathedrals” of modern health care
· in our own faith structure
· and even amongst ourselves.

We have grown together in that we have reconfirmed our common task: that of caring.

The ability to care is a gift, a charisma (χάρισμα). St. John Chrysostom says that there is no such thing as a superior or inferior gift. There are only different gifts. I may add that tensions arise when someone either becomes possessive of his or her gift, when one becomes jealous of the other’s gift, or when someone wants to possessively control or take the other’s gift for him or herself.

The best way to utilize and develop the gift that has been given to us, the gift of caring, the gift of our organizations and the gift of this Network is:

· If we, together with Rev. Rune Forsbeck, can constantly ask why we are engaged in health care chaplaincy.

· If we can see our obstacles as challenges in a constructive, non-threatening way, as suggested by Fr. Angelo Brusco.

· If we can see ourselves as part of a whole and not compete with others, as Chaplain Kathleen O’Connor surmised.

· Then we can be a guiding light in the modern Cathedral, that Eirik Os so well described.

· We will be respected as a source of respect in the multi-cultural and multi-faith world portrayed by Fr. Edward Lewis.

In acknowledging the above, then our Chaplaincies can survive and can be an expression of life. If not, the gift of care, and together with this, the gift of our organizations and this Network, which has been entrusted to us by God, will surely be taken away from us and we will die, leading others unto death as well.

If the Network – the health care chaplaincy in Europe - is going to be a source of care and a guiding light, we who make up the Network must take further steps in building the bridges of communication and mutual sharing on all levels. For only in sharing our individual gifts with others, allowing them in this way to become useful and meaningful tools in the art of caring, can we be thankful and rejoice, not only in the gift that each of us holds, but also in the gifts held by others.

We must now ask: How can the Network be a source of care, a guiding light and a tool in the European Cathedral of life which we live and serve? What are our next steps?