Home Opinion The weight of institutional chaplaincy

The weight of institutional chaplaincy

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By Rev Benson Amanya

Chaplains work quietly, dependably and dynamically behind the scenes. Their results are hard to measure or tabulate, yet recognized by the beneficiaries.

Chaplaincy enriches the social and spiritual fabrics of our communities.

That is why chaplains continue to occupy a unique space in the well-being, faith, spirituality and pastoral care at schools, hospitals and prisons.

How would life behind bars be without prison Chaplains providing intimate counseling to inmates?

These take the inmates along a journey of helping them navigate through the harshness of prison life, pressures of incarceration, separation from friends and family, and so on.

It is equally a journey towards breaking free from mental illness, drug addiction, and from despair to positivity.

When inmates decide to meet their chaplain, they are usually at a low point in their lives. Some struggle with suicidal thoughts or even attempts to harm themselves.

They need God’s grace to tame their anger, bitterness, and depression.

My experience
As a school chaplain, I count it a privilege and great honour to be trusted by a community of students and staff to listen to, care for and serve wholeheartedly.

I wake up every morning truly believing I am going out to make a difference in the life of at least one soul.

That one soul could be a cook, cleaner, student, teacher or an administrator.

At one particular occasion, I met one of my former students at a party and he introduced me to his father.

“Dad, if it wasn’t because of my chaplain I wouldn’t have completed my course,” he said.

I recalled connected dots, only to remember that I had walked a journey with that young man until he overcame his addiction to alcoholism.

That is one of the humbling feedbacks that keep the energy, zeal and attitude of a chaplain so charged.

In hospitals
In a hospital setting, a chaplain is a valuable resource to patients, their families as well as hospital staff.

Part of the package a chaplain brings to the hospital include ministry of healing (Medics care, God heals), pre and post-surgical counseling, grief and bereavement counseling, family support counseling and staff counseling.

They serve as a dominant link between patients and medical workers. While the latter offer medical support, the former offer psycho-social and spiritual support.

Chaplaincy
Needless to mention, chaplaincy is a ministry of availability and presence.

Availability alone in the life of someone in need ministers a lot. This calls for more of listening, extending care, and responding appropriately to a person’s needs.

Chaplains, as pastors, ought to listen, care, give undivided attention, understand instead of judging. And more so, keep a lot of confidentiality.

God calls those who are willing and available, then equips them for the task ahead.

In as much as chaplains are trained by a particular community of faith, they are called to serve people of all denominations in that particular community.

They spur people to be best versions of themselves and make good life decisions.

Over time I have learnt that, my role as a chaplain is not any less than responding to the needs of the people I serve.

This is a ministry built on compassion for others, more so the hopeless, desperate, destitute, devastated and abandoned members of the community.

The goal of a chaplain is to proclaim the love of God to people by being a good neighbor and demonstrating God’s love to them in tangible ways.

The writer is a chaplain at Rukungiri Technical Institute

Northkigezi Diocese bentamanya@gmail.com

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