Meet the Pastoral Care Team

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 Pastoral Care Team at 716 845-8051.

Director of Pastoral Care

Beth Lenegan, PhD

Dr. Beth Lenegan was recruited to Roswell Park to create the Pastoral Care Department in 1999. Through her work, she has turned an informal ministry into a vital interfaith community within the cancer center’s campus and beyond.

A nationally known expert in pastoral and palliative care, Dr. Lenegan holds a doctorate in Counselor Education and a master of education in Counseling Psychology from the University at Buffalo. She also earned a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Ministry from the Boston College Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry. She is a certified chaplain, as awarded by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC).

Dr. Lenegan is a chaplain for the Red Cross Air Disaster Critical and Response Teams and is a member of the National Task Force for Spiritual Care.

She enjoys educating others, and serves as an adjunct professor of religious studies at Buffalo State College. She is also a sought-after speaker and expert on pastoral care and religious studies.

Staff Chaplain

Rev. Raymond Corbin • Catholic Chaplain

Rev. Raymond Corbin, is the Pastor of Infant of Prague, Roman Catholic Church in Cheektowaga, NY.

Father Ray joined the Pastoral Care Department in 2009, where he is on call three nights and on site two days a week.

He holds master of Theology and Divinity degrees from Christ the King Seminary and a Bachelor of Science degree in Management/Marketing from the State University of New York at Brockport.

 

Staff Chaplain

Pastor Reninger Flores M.Div. 

Pastor Reninger Flores’ visitation and philosophy go beyond a patient room number. He sees in every visit a divine appointment that must be accomplished with love, compassion and professionalism.

He believes that a good spiritual assessment will be the base to better serve the minimum needs of every patient. Working together with the health care team is the best way to accomplish the goal of at least mitigating the suffering of a patient that bears an illness. Also, Pastor Flores believes in continual growth that involves physical, spiritual and intellectual advancement until the day when we can see our Savior in glory and majesty.

Pastor Flores graduated from the Theological Seminary in 1981. That same year he started working as a District Pastor in the Northern Peruvian Conference. In 1992, he obtained a master of divinity at the Latin American Adventist Seminary. He worked in ministry in Peru until 1995, when he also accepted an invitation to work in the Northeastern Conference of New York.

In 1998, the New York Conference invited him to work in the Hispanic congregation of South Buffalo, NY, where he studied Clinical Pastoral Education at Sisters of Charity Hospital. He earned a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and Mental Health Counseling at the University of Buffalo. He is pursuing a doctor of ministry degree at Andrews University in Michigan.

Staff Chaplain

Rev. Melody Rutherford, M.Div. 

Rev. 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. 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. 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 Palliative Care Chaplaincy Specialty Certification 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. Rutherford has served in ministry in various capacities, including as host of a live Christian radio broadcast. She has 27 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. Rutherford earned a master of divinity degree from Northeastern Seminary.

As an Associate Minister, Rev. Rutherford was recently ordained at a local Baptist congregation and will soon receive national ecclesiastical recognition through her denomination.

Staff Chaplain

Joseph A. Blatz, M.A.P.M.

“Chaplain Joe” has been working in the field of chaplaincy as a pastoral 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.

Life Recorded Coordinator

Alicia J. Larson, MA

While earning a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from St. Bonaventure University, Alicia decided that she wanted to use the skills she was learning to help people. So, Alicia asked for an internship within the Marketing department at Roswell Park.

During the same summer months that Alicia was getting a closer look into what it takes to succeed in her career, Alicia’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. The following years were filled with many joys, but also the ups and downs of being a 20-something caregiver, the long study hours required for earning a master’s degree, career beginnings and a new puppy.

Alicia’s mom passed away in the spring of 2006. The silver lining was the chance to do something to fight back against cancer. Alicia joined the staff of the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation in September 2006. Hard work and determination led to promotions and a transition to a role in internal communications in 2010.

Then, Alicia experienced a “God wink” in the summer of 2017 that led to her accepting her current role. She considers herself truly blessed to have the opportunity to use her journalistic and storytelling talents to help Roswell Park’s patients, caregivers, employees, donors, volunteers and students express and treasure what is most important to them.

Executive Secretary

Debbie Kowalewski

Visiting Clergy

Deacon Bill Walkowiak • Roman Catholic
Rev. Ray Schooler • American Baptist Churches
Deacon Carmelo Gaudioso • Catholic Diocese
Decon David Velasquez • Catholic Diocese
Deacon Phil Hubbell •  Lutheran Church
Pastor Ned Holderby •  United Church of Christ

Pastoral Care Visitors

Rose Aldrow 
Linda Ashline *
David Beam 
Ellen Bean and Life Recorded
Rev. Geraldine Boyland and Minister of Communion  
Sister Karen Copeland and Life Recorded
Louise Dessert and Eucharistic Minister
Martha Filadora and Life Recorded
Sharon Kooken and Eucharistic Minister
William Meiler and Eucharistic Minister
Mary McCracken * and Eucharistic Minister
Jenny Ohar *
Fran Phillips and Eucharistic Minister
Melanie Scherer * and Eucharistic Minister
Joyce Torge *
William Wilson
Lewanda Wright
Adrianne Mostiller and Eucharistic Minister
Joseph S. Testa* and Eucharistic Minister
Mantha Wyse and Eucharistic Minister

Ministers of Holy Communion

Deborah Allen 
Diane Caruana
Catherine Cipolla
Ann Deck
Charlie Decker
John Gruber
Mary Kowal
Sheldon Lenahan
Tim O’Shea
Nancy Sevilla
Sr. Antonita Sikorski
Michael Szematowiez and Life Recorded
Elizabeth Waggoner
Audrey Walkowiak

Secretarial Staff

Sarah Berardi
Donna Nalbach
Lula Smeader

Life Recorded

Rose Ann Berardi
Carol Borom
Barbara Brown
Marina Fery
Laura Kicinski
Betty Levin
Nancy Putney
John Ruggiero
Bernie Snusz

Seminarian

Robert Owczorczak

End of Life Team

Terry Herring

Community Denominational Support

Anglican
Fr. Arthur Ward

Anglican (Anglo Catholic)
Rev. Edward Ihde

AME (African Methodist Episcopal)
Reverend Richard Stenhouse

AME (African Methodist Episcopal Zion)
Rev. Cary Beckwith

Asian/Vietnamese
Peter Lee

Baptist
Pastor Ivan Crossno
Rev. John Staples
Rev. Michael Chapman

Buddhist
Ray Eigen Ball
Dr. Jeannette Ludwig

Chinese
Yongrong Zhang

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Stake President Nathan Pace
Bishop Dan Desrosiers

Episcopalian
Rev. Leann McConchie
The Very Rev. W. (Will) H. Mebane, Jr.
The Rev Ann M. Tilman 

Greek Orthodox
Rev. Dr. Christos Christakis

Hindu
Vijay Chakravarthy

Hispanic
Luz Milagros Ramos
Rev. Samuel Rivera (Pentacostal)

Native American
Rev. Thunder Silk

Islam
Imam Dawood Adeyola

Jehovah's Witnesses
Gary Griffin
William Stanford

Judaism
Rabbi Alex Lazazrus-Klein

Korean
Rev. Cheong-il Bak 

Non-Denominational (Elim Christian Fellowship)
Rev. Betty P. Williams

Orthodox
Rev. Jason Vansuch

Presbyterian
Rev. John Long

Roman Catholic
Jesuit Fathers at St. Michaels Church
Rev. Fred Hinton
Rev. Paul Nogaro
Rev. Paul Sabo
Rev. Richard DiGiulio

Russian Orthodox 
Fr. Volodymyr Zablotskyy

Unitarian Universalist
Rev. Joan Montagnas

Unity Church in Buffalo
Rev. Mary Masters