The chaplains at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center provide spiritual care to all people regardless of their religious affiliations. You do not have to belong to a faith congregation or even consider yourself religious to request a chaplain. We are here to visit you and your loved ones while you are an inpatient as well as meet you during one of your clinic visits. The team consists of five chaplains, the coordinator of the Life Recorded Program, our administrative assistant and 65 volunteers.
You can reach any member of the Spiritual Care Team at 716 845-8051.
Rev. Dr. Melody Rutherford knows firsthand that illness can separate patients and caregivers from their faith congregations. When her father was very ill, caring for him made it impossible for her mother to attend church on a regular basis — at a time when she needed that support most.
“Sometimes you miss being with the people who enrich you spiritually,” says Rev. Dr. Rutherford.
As our full-time Protestant chaplain at Roswell Park, she hopes to fill that empty place for patients who find themselves in the same situation. “I encourage them and let them know they’re not alone — that somebody really cares and is praying for them. Sometimes they ask me to contact the pastor of their own church or to read scripture or a poem, or to just sit and hold their hand. Touching— that human connection— is very important.”
Rev. Dr. Rutherford has a heart of ministry for those who are facing disease, depression and despair. Her desire is to walk with them on their journey while offering a peaceful, caring and uplifting presence.
Her ministry includes being Palliative Care Chaplain – working with patients and families making end of life decisions. She recently completed a Palliative Care Chaplaincy Specialty Certificate from California State University San Marcos and seeking National Chaplaincy Certification through the Association of Professional Chaplains
“It’s a blessing," she says. "When patients and families let me enter their journey, I don’t take that lightly.”
Since 1992, Rev. Dr. Rutherford has served in ministry in various capacities, including as host of a live Christian radio broadcast. She has 30+ years of experience in healthcare, in such areas as chaplaincy services, clinical pastoral education, and mission services. A graduate of SUNY Empire State College, Rev. Dr. Rutherford earned a master of divinity degree from Northeastern Seminary, and a doctorate in ministry for Liberty University in the Leadership cognate.
As an Associate Minister, Rev. Dr. Rutherford was recently ordained at a local Baptist congregation and will soon receive national ecclesiastical recognition through her denomination.
“Chaplain Joe” has been working in the field of chaplaincy as a spiritual care provider for close to 25 years. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies from Canisius College and a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry from Christ the King Seminary. Joe functions as a Non-denominational, inter-faith Christian chaplain. He currently provides weekend support services at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center with select on-call responsibilities.
He is an experienced Coordinator of Spiritual Care Services and comes to Roswell with a background as an Associate On-call Chaplain at a few area Hospitals and a Skilled Nursing Home & Rehab Facility. In this capacity, he has a wealth of knowledge working in both pediatrics and geriatrics. He has served on both hospitals and Long-Term Care Ethic Committees and is a champion for promoting Palliative Care initiatives. He has received recognition for the work he has done in End of Life Care. He is a certified Stephen Minister trainer and leader and continues to provide crisis care/spiritual care interventions at other health systems in Western New York.
Joe views his work as a calling – he believes in meeting people where-ever they are at, walking with them by accompany a person on their life’s journey by: providing a listening ear, a voice of compassion, holding a patient’s hand when they are afraid; all while keeping an individual in the continuity of their own faith tradition. He believes his ministry should be that of acting as a link to an individual’s belief system – offering “spiritual connectedness”. By offering a person emotional support or coping care, you begin to “help people, help themselves”.
Joe is very happy to be a part of the Spiritual Care Department, here at Roswell Park.
Originally from Peru, Dr. Reverend Reninger Flores moved to United States in 1997. He is married and has four adult children. Dr. Rev. Flores received a degree in Theology at the Peruvian Union University and worked as a District Pastor in South America. He has received a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and Mental Health Counseling at University at Buffalo, and completed a Doctoral Degree in Ministry at Andrews University, MI, in 2020.
In 1997 he worked as Aide District Pastor in churches throughout New Bedford, Massachusett, Danbury, Connecticut, and finally in Buffalo, New York. In 2005, Dr. Flores accepted to work at McAuley Seton Home, in the area of Chaplaincy, in Kenmore — until 2013, when he became a Staff Chaplain at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Dr. Flores is also the author of Palliative Care Assessment: Impact in the Life of Patients with Cancer at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is a pioneer of the Adventist International Virtual Church where he has had great success in extending his pastoral ministry to the faithful around the world.
Deacon Phil Hubbell • Lutheran Church
Rev. Sandra Palmer * • Word of Life Ministries
Rev. Ray Schooler • American Baptist Churches
Deacon Bill Walkowiak • Roman Catholic
Spiritual Care Visitors
Linda Ashline *
Rev. Geraldine Boyland and Minister of Communion
Louise Dessert and Eucharistic Minister
Nadine Iannarelli and Eucharistic Minister
Louise Lougen and Eucharistic Minister
Jenny Ohar *
Fran Phillips and Eucharistic Minister
Christine Porto * and Eucharistic Minister
Melanie Scherer * and Eucharistic Minister
Mantha Wyse and Eucharistic Minister
*Designates Bereavement Team
Ministers of Holy Communion
Paul Spitale II, PhD
Community Denominational Support
Fr. Arthur Ward
Anglican (Anglo Catholic)
Rev. Edward Ihde
AME (African Methodist Episcopal)
Reverend Richard Stenhouse
AME (African Methodist Episcopal Zion)
Rev. Cary Beckwith
Pastor Ivan Crossno
Rev. John Staples
Rev. Michael Chapman
Ray Eigen Ball
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Stake President Nathan Pace
Bishop Dan Desrosiers
The Very Rev. Derrick Fetz
Rev. Leann McConchie
The Rev Ann M. Tilman
Rev. Dr. Christos Christakis
Luz Milagros Ramos
Rev. Samuel Rivera (Pentacostal)
Rev. Thunder Silk
Imam Dawood Adeyola
Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein
Rev. Cheong-il Bak
Non-Denominational (Elim Christian Fellowship)
Rev. Betty P. Williams
Rev. Jason Vansuch
Rev. John Long
Jesuit Fathers at St. Michaels Church
Rev. Fred Hinton
Rev. Paul Sabo
Rev. Richard DiGiulio
Fr. Volodymyr Zablotskyy
Rev. Joan Montagnas
Unity Church in Buffalo
Rev. Mary Masters