Meet the Spiritual 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 Spiritual Care Team at 716 845-8051.

Director of Spiritual Care

Beth Lenegan, PhD

Dr. Beth Lenegan was recruited to Roswell Park to create the Spiritual 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 spiritual 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 has been recently elected to serve a three-year term on the Board of Directors for the 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 spiritual 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 Spiritual 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 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.

Life Recorded Coordinator

Alicia J. Larson, MA

Alicia heads up the Life Recorded program and has been a Roswell Park employee since 2010. Prior to that she worked for the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. Her professional work is inspired by her mom’s battle with breast cancer, having lost her mom to the disease in 2006. Alicia is a great listener who is compassionate and understanding of all those she encounters. She has a background in journalism, communications and marketing. Alicia lives right in the center of WNY, making it easy for her to travel to storytellers’ homes, when requested. Alicia and her husband welcomed their son through adoption in July 2018.

A Note from Alicia…
“Each of the stories I record is unique and special. I am motivated by each of the storytellers who entrust their words to my ears as I facilitate their recordings. I have learned that all people have at least this one thing in common – expressing our true selves to another individual is profoundly therapeutic for our spiritual well-being. I’d be honored to help you record your story!”

      - Alicia

Life Recorded Facilitator

Marina Fery

Marina is an exceptionally valued volunteer staff member of Roswell Park’s Spiritual Care department. She has supported Life Recorded since the program’s first recordings that were completed in 2015. Marina’s gentle personality offers storytellers a tranquil experience as they share their stories. She is known for her kindness and selflessness. She commutes to volunteer at Roswell from her home outside of Rochester, which she shares with her husband who founded “Bread Time Stories.” Traveling to Roswell Park each week is just one example of Marina’s devotion to her ministry as a Life Recorded facilitator.

A Note from Marina…
“A Story, meaningful and true. Life Recorded, let's include You!!”

      - Marina

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

Spiritual Care Visitors

Rose Aldrow 
Linda Ashline *
David Beam 
Rev. Geraldine Boyland and Minister of Communion  
Louise Dessert and Eucharistic Minister
Martha Filadora
Sharon Kooken and Eucharistic Minister
Louise Lougen 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
Mantha Wyse and Eucharistic Minister

Ministers of Holy Communion

Deborah Allen 
Dianne Barrali
Diane Caruana
Catherine Cipolla
Ann Deck
Charlie Decker
Mary Kowal
Sheldon Lenahan
Tim O’Shea
Nancy Sevilla
Michael Szematowiez
Elizabeth Waggoner
Audrey Walkowiak

Secretarial Staff

Sarah Berardi
Michael Mrochko
Lula Smeader

Life Recorded

Rose Ann Berardi
Carol Borom
Barbara Brown
Marina Fery
Nancy Putney
Bernie Snusz

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

Peter Lee

Pastor Ivan Crossno
Rev. John Staples
Rev. Michael Chapman

Ray Eigen Ball

Yongrong Zhang

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 

Greek Orthodox
Rev. Dr. Christos Christakis

Vijay Chakravarthy

Luz Milagros Ramos
Rev. Samuel Rivera (Pentacostal)

Native American
Rev. Thunder Silk

Imam Dawood Adeyola

Jehovah's Witnesses
Gary Griffin

Rabbi Alex Lazazrus-Klein

Rev. Cheong-il Bak 

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

Rev. Jason Vansuch

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