Laywoman Catholic hospital chaplain


I know that questions about lay chaplains occasionally come up and just want to share this. Just a little while ago my wife and I prayed with and received Holy Communion from the chaplain at the Catholic hospital where my wife currently is a patient. It was a very uplifting experience, leaving us both feeling the best we have felt in several days, the issues my wife is facing not withstanding. The chaplain is a young lady who is a recent graduate of the local Catholic university and has been “on the job” for just two weeks. I believe she truly has found her “vocation.”


That’s wonderful. God bless you all.


A “chaplain” is not necessarily a priest.
Normally chaplains are found in the military and they are required to care for the soldiers without any discrimination to the faith or lack of the soldier they are counselling.
A priest who is a chaplain may have to serve and cater to a muslim of protestant soldier, not that he would not be happy do so under normal circumstances.

Now a chaplain unless it is a priest cannot confect the Eucharist nor officiate mass.
A lay minister of communion can “distribute” the Eucharist that has been confected at mass.
In the past this function was allowed to be carried out by a Deacon but recently it has been allowed to be carried out by lie persons men and women.


Right. In addition, if you need the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, you need a priest (only priests can do the anointing of the sick and hear confessions). So, if you are in critical condition, have the chaplain call your pastor.


Many chaplains in hospitals are in a program called Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) which is a nationwide training for seminarians. They may take a summer training between school terms, or a whole year. It’s pretty much required for ordination in the majority of faith traditions. There are lay people who also may participate.

I wonder if this young woman was in a CPE program. Or perhaps a volunteer with the Spiritual Care department?

Anyway, spiritual care providers do good work, and I’m so glad you had a positive experience with her.


God bless her and her work.
I hope you wife is doing well…prayers offered, friends!


Didn’t have a chance to ask under the circumstances but I may have an opportunity later in the week.


I am glad and thankful that there are those, clerics, monastics, and laity, who minister to the ailing. I do want to take this time to remind those who have charge of this ministry, namely chaplains from the Latin Church, to remember not only to minister to those of your own Catholic church sui iuris (Latin, etc.), but to all Catholics in your communion (Byzantine, Maronite, etc.). I do occasionally read of complaints (not too many, mind you) that Eastern Catholics are denied Holy Communion from Latin hospital chaplains.

Once again, a sincere thank you for your work.


Agreed. I have also heard the same. Perhaps a note to your local hospital’s Spiritual Care office might help that.


Not all who go through CPE are seminarians or non-Catholics. I know several lay and religious Catholics, including a lot of sisters, who complete CPE training, and at least one sister whose ministry was teaching in a CPE program after she was herself certified. A sister-friend of mine is beginning CPE training next summer, in preparation for a new ministry as a hospital chaplain (she is almost 70 years old! I love that sisters are still open to new ministries even after their Golden Jubilees.).


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