Chaplains serve in many ways and in many places

Jun 7 2013 - 6:52pm

Being or working as a chaplain is a lot more common than you might think if you only remember Father Francis Mulcahy on the old television series, "M*A*S*H."

And chaplains serve in many more settings than the military.

A Google search of "chaplain" gives insight to different spiritual roles they can provide for the military, the medical field, businesses, prisons/jails and higher education.

* Professionalchaplains.org: This site provides the best definition of a chaplain:

"A chaplain is an individual who is ordained or endorsed by a faith group to provide chaplaincy care in diverse settings including, but not limited to, hospitals, corrections, long-term care, sports teams, palliative care, military, hospices, workplaces, mental health and universities.

"Chaplaincy care is care provided by a board-certified chaplain, associate certified chaplain or by a student in an accredited clinical pastoral education program. Examples of such care include emotional, spiritual, religious, pastoral, ethical and/or existential care. Chaplaincy care is grounded in initiating, developing and deepening, and bringing to an appropriate close, a mutual and empathic relationship with the patient/client, family and/ or staff."

The site offers information if chaplaincy sounds like an interesting career. Becoming a certified chaplain usually requires an accredited undergraduate degree, graduate studies in theology and internship work in the field. Those interested in the field should talk to their individual faith's leaders about their requirements.

* Acpe.edu: This site outlines the educational needs for chaplaincy. The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education says CPE "is interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and others) into supervised encounters with persons in crisis. Out of an intense involvement with persons in need, and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those to whom they minister."

* Goarmy.com/chaplain: This site offers information if you want to go the military route as a chaplain like Mulcahy. Again, you are going to need undergraduate and graduate work in accredited theological studies or seminary with an eccliastical endorsement from your faith. The Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course can be started while in graduate school.

Plus, you need to be able to spiritually help soldiers of your faith and soldiers of any other faiths and provide them with a means to worship. A candidate also has to pass a military physical exam and security clearance.

Other military branches' chaplain information can be found at (Navy) www.chaplain.navy.mil; (Air Force) www.chaplaincorps.af.mil; and (Coast Guard) www.uscg.mil/comdt/cocg.

* Chaplain.org: This site, run by Corporate Chaplains of America, lists several reasons it thinks businesses should offer that service: lower turnover, increased job satisfaction, a noticeable decrease in tardiness, higher employee productivity, less money spent on training and lower absenteeism.

The group says its member chaplains help "build employers relationships with employees, providing objective, confidential, 24/7 care, spiritual encouragement and crisis support. All relationships are permission-based and completely confidential, so the employee is in charge of how deep and to what extent the relationship will grow."

* Hcmachaplains.org: The Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association says its chaplains "function as an integral member of the healthcare team to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of the sick and suffering, the distressed and dying."

Medical chaplains can be found in hospitals, long-term care settings, rehabilitation units and home/hospice care. They also provide spiritual support for medical staff, patients' families and as a liaison for local clergy.

* Correctionalchaplains.org: The American Correctional Chaplains Association says, "Much like our colleagues in the military and at hospitals, correctional chaplains provide pastoral care to those who are disconnected from the general community by certain circumstances."

They also provide services to correctional facility staff and their families and in some circumstances, prisoners' families. The chaplains also work as liaisons with community clergy. The site adds that they help the orderly operation of prisons by diffusing frustration, anger and stress.

* Nacuc.net: The National Association of College and University Chaplains focuses its mission on higher education without forgetting spirituality. It says its first mission is "to further the spirit of ecumenicity and understanding among all religious groups as they relate to the university environment."

The education requirement to work as a chaplain at a college or university is basically the same as for medical, corporate and health care/hospice chaplains. NACUC says a chaplain's role is critical for preparing students for adult life.

"Our colleges and universities are explicitly committed to developing the whole person, creating global citizens, and promoting civic engagement of students throughout their lives," its website says. "Finding one's own spiritual, religious, and moral compass is a key component of personal well-being in adult life."

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