Staff and Volunteers of Many Faiths Support Patients’ Spiritual Needs at RPCI

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 3:48pm

Religious faith can influence many aspects of life—what you eat or don’t eat, how you dress, the holidays you celebrate, and most of all, the customs and rituals you practice in times of celebration or distress. Patients at Roswell Park come from a multitude of religious and cultural traditions, and the Pastoral Care Department helps bring the comfort of their faith into the hospital setting.

Beth Lenegan, PhD, Director of Pastoral Care, has organized a network of people—both hospital staff and community volunteers—who work together to accommodate patients’ religious needs, from meals that follow special dietary laws to visits from spiritual leaders of the same faith. The network draws on the guidance of RPCI’s Protestant and Roman Catholic chaplains as well consultants to the department who include Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Native Americans, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons, and Unitarian Universalists, among people of many other beliefs and religions. “We have a good multi-faith mixture of people ready to serve our patients,” says Dr. Lenegan.

The Pastoral Care Department provides religious articles for people of different faiths—for example, prayer rugs, Q’rans, and kufis (prayer caps) for Muslims, and rosaries and scapulars for Roman Catholics; Bibles in German, French, Spanish, or Korean; and a CD to enhance meditation. “Studies have shown that meditating or chanting something, a mantra, can quiet people physically,” notes Dr. Lenegan. Native American patients may request a healing drumming ceremony.

The hospital’s “all faith” chapel, located on the first floor, just off the pedestrian “bridge” overlooking Kaminski Park, is open around the clock for meditation and prayer. Roman Catholic Mass, Muslim prayer services, and interdenominational services of music, prayer, and reflection are held in the chapel regularly, as noted on the monthly patient calendar (available here for viewing or download). People of other faiths also hold services in the chapel every month; these include the Hindu ritual puja.  Details about services are posted on the patient calendar and the chapel door.

For assistance or information, call the Pastoral Care Department at 716-845-8051.