Spiritual Care for Cancer Patients: Meet the Roswell Park Chaplains

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - 9:38am

Cancer can change your whole life. Suddenly, everything is different – your relationships, your outlook on life, your emotions, your daily routine. Spiritual care, regardless of your belief system, can be a powerful tool in helping you cope with the disease in a healthy and positive way. Here at Roswell Park, we have four full-time chaplains who provide meaningful support to our patients, their families and our staff.

Chaplain Joseph Blatz

“As a Chaplain, I love helping others. I personally tend to use humor as an approach to spiritual care. Sometimes there is no way around dealing with cancer – we must get through it and I find that laughter can help, along with perseverance and hope.

My work involves being available to patients and families during some of the hardest moments of their lives. I have come to realize that I stand with them on very hallowed grounds and may end up meeting with them at a point of total vulnerability. I must be prepared to be a shoulder to cry on. I’m here to offer a listening presence and to provide a voice of love in their suffering or sorrow. I make it my mission to help them help themselves, to find strength and to understand their spiritual or religious beliefs.

While I do not believe a higher power is the source of our suffering, I do believe that people are put on paths to walk with others during some of life’s hardest times. I believe I’m lucky to be one of those people."

Father Raymond Corbin

“I always pictured myself as a social worker and provider. This career of ordained ministry and specifically, hospital ministry/crisis ministry combined my strong personal faith and a life of service. I have been an ordained Catholic priest for 15 years and have been Roswell’s priest chaplain for 13. I also currently serve as pastor at a local suburban parish.

I love hospital ministry because in this role I able to affect people’s lives when they are at the most vulnerable. But, the hardest part of my role at Roswell is ministering to the families of a very young person who is dying. Taking home everyone’s life story can also be very draining emotionally and spiritually. A chaplain must find ways to spiritually recharge themselves for this type of ministry on a regular basis.

Cancer can be one of the most frightening words a person can hear. Even the most unreligious person reverts to their religious upbringing at this time. Cancer spiritual care is different in many ways from other hospital work. From diagnosis to remission patients will always have cancer as part of their identity. The chaplain must understand and be able to minister to that permanent change.

As challenging as this work at Roswell is, it is of great reward that we can have a positive influence and walk their journey of cancer with them.”

Spiritual Care at Roswell Park
From recording your life story, to requesting prayers and connecting with other patients, our Spiritual Care department offers many services to those affected by cancer.

Learn More

Pastor Reninger Flores

“I love being a chaplain because we can share a little light in the darkest moment of the patient's life. Presence, hope and words of strength are what I am to provide when I visit patients and their families. I want them to feel some sense of calm in the midst of this storm life has given them.

I’m proud that our Spiritual Care Department is inclusive, multicultural and open to the wide range of beliefs that we find at Roswell in the daily basis. I was born in Peru and am a native Spanish speaker, so I especially look forward to providing comfort to our Hispanic patients and families who may feel overwhelmed and scared.

I’ve been a chaplain here at Roswell Park for five years, and in that time I’ve learned that the spiritual care our team provides is unique and powerful. I am proud of the commitment and dedication of my fellow team members.”

Reverend Melody Rutherford

“Spiritual care is important to cancer patients and families because it is the wellspring of their strength. A person who is spiritually content has peace, confidence and positivity flowing from them. In that sense, sickness or disease cannot shake the “very essence of their life.” The wellspring of a person’s spirituality allows them to refresh themselves through prayer, music, scripture, nature, meditation and many other ways.

I endeavor to provide unique and effective ministry to persons of all diverse races, cultures, religions, traditions, nationalities, ages and disabilities. I love meeting people from all walks of life, hearing their stories and sharing in their joys and sorrows. In addition, I enjoy the opportunity to minister to the many employees who seek out my ear for support and prayer. Every other week I host a well-attended prayer service where employees gather to hear an encouraging word, sing spiritual songs and pray for one another. It is wonderful to see the connecting power of faith at work among employees regardless of their position. During this fifteen-minute service, hearts are linked, individual needs are addressed, and nothing seems too big or too small to be held up in prayer to God. There have been times when participants come in to share a good praise report while the listeners are encouraged in their own personal circumstances. I have been told many times how individuals leave the service feeling supported, loved, empowered and reenergized to finish their work day.

Spirituality is so important to people who recognize that a healthy spirit can help contribute to a healthy body. After all, we are all spirit, soul, and live in a temporary body.”