As a chaplain, I am present for the alpha and omega moments in hospital life, which are the beginnings and endings of life, along with all the events that happen in the middle of those touchpoints.
''And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." -- Luke 11:9-10.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in healing and health care. It was the natural progression for me to follow that interest and become a registered nurse and practice in many areas of nursing. As a nurse, happily married and the mother of two sons, one day a thought struck me that I was to do something new and different. I was not sure what that something was, until a few years later.
My parents were aging and having health issues in my home state of Indiana, which necessitated that I fly home and leave my husband and family in Massachusetts for weeks at a time. It was there -- at my parents' bedsides, in hospitals, rehabs, nursing homes and assisted living facilities -- that I began to understand that God was calling me to an enhanced vocation of healing and service. My parents were ill for many years, and during that time they received care from Catholic chaplains: ordained, religious, and lay. I also was the recipient of their compassionate care and understood that God was asking that I train to become a lay ecclesial health care minister -- in plain talk, a chaplain.
After researching what credentials were necessary to become a board-certified chaplain, I applied and was accepted into the Master of Arts in Ministry Program (MAM) at St. John's Seminary, and began the necessary academic program. However, MAM is not only an academic program; it consciously, deliberately, and artfully has integrated spiritual, human, and ministerial formation into the academic theological program.
The MAM community enriched me in so many ways; meeting students and professors who would become my colleagues, coworkers, and friends. The personal and spiritual support through spiritual direction and evenings of prayer and days of retreat enabled me to understand the importance of prayer to maintain spiritual, emotional, and physical health in ministry. Field education allowed me the freedom to experience different approaches to pastoral ministry and how to use pastoral discernment to make correct choices.
I was well prepared by the program to take the next steps to become a board-certified chaplain by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.
Employed as a board-certified chaplain for the Archdiocese of Boston for almost 20 years has been rewarding and sacred work. The Easter Proclamation proclaims that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega. Jesus came to be with us in our joys, sufferings, and infirmities. As a chaplain, I am present for the alpha and omega moments in hospital life, which are the beginnings and endings of life, along with all the events that happen in the middle of those touchpoints.
While working in a hospital and being at a patient's bedside, supporting a patient's family, being present for the staff, students and clergy, working on committees and teaching, being a resource for parishes and the archdiocese, it has been a great privilege to be of service to my brothers and sisters in faith.
My degree from the MAM Program prepared me to continue my professional education and complete a Doctorate in Ministry with a specialization in pastoral ministry, which enhances my ministry in serving Christ, his Church and his people.
MARY BETH MORAN, D. MIN. BCC, RN, FCN, IS A 2002 GRADUATE OF THE MASTER OF ARTS IN MINISTRY PROGRAM OF ST. JOHN'S SEMINARY.