National Pastoral Care Week started in 1983 when the National Association of Catholic Chaplains passed a resolution to establish a Pastoral Care Week. It was not until October of 1985 that the first Pastoral Care Week was held. Each year since, a full week in October has been set to provide an opportunity for chaplains and pastoral care providers to celebrate their various ministries. By 1995, the word national was dropped from National Pastoral Care Week because it was obvious that it was not just a national celebration but, in fact, an international one. Next week October 16-22, we are proud to honor Pastoral Care Week. It is a time to learn and promote pastoral care, honor the practice of spiritual care and counseling, celebrate the practitioners of pastoral care, express appreciation to institutions who support the ministries, and to eternally continue educating the community and clergy regarding the value of pastoral care. Spirituality is unique to each and every individual. Spirituality is the way individuals live out their faith. Regardless of spiritual, religious, or cultural background, this is a week to celebrate those who provide spiritual support to others. Pastoral care can be provided in all settings including hospitals, prisons, businesses, industries, long-term care facilities, counseling centers, hospices, military settings, nursing homes, corporations, schools and universities throughout the world. One celebration for pastoral care we most recently held at Mitchell-Hollingsworth is the blessing of the hands. This was performed by Compassus Hospice Chaplain, Steven Butler. Our staff was so touched to have a chaplain pray with them and recognize their extraordinary work they do for others day after day. They were given the opportunity to truly recognize that they have holy hands, given to fulfill divine purposes.
Our local chaplains offer every resident at Mitchell-Hollingsworth the same compassionate listening presence no matter what faith they profess. They encourage our residents to share their story and what gives their life meaning, purpose, and value. They address issues of spiritual practice, spiritual needs and wants, and important beliefs regarding wellness, illness, and end of life care. They provide counseling and spiritual direction whether short-term or long. Crisis or trauma may only call for short-term counseling while a resident who feels lost or without hope may require long-term spiritual presence with needs addressed on an ongoing basis. For those at end of life, dimensions of spirituality may be explored and more in-depth search for meaning, relationships, and an integration of the mind, body, and spirit. Sometimes they are simply a compassionate companion to those who might be alone. Chaplains offer bereavement counseling for residents and families when a loved one has been lost.
When needed, they perform holy rituals or special rites from various traditions upon request. When a health crisis arises and a resident is sent to the hospital, a chaplain can help a resident connect with their spiritual self and facilitate healing during recovery. Not only that, chaplains and pastoral care provide our residents with a worship experience for many different denominations. We want to thank our outside organizations for the opportunities they provide our residents and the love, care, and support they provide through their ministry. We appreciate their prayers and the essential role they play in long-term care and in our everyday lives. Please take this wonderful opportunity to recognize the spiritual caregivers in your life for all that they do.