Faith Matters

Hospice chaplains: All of life matters

PEOPLE MATTER: Rev Matthew Hagan, Archbishop of Armagh Dr Richard Clarke and the Rev Caroline McAfee contributed to Chaplaincy in Hospice and Palliative Care. "People matter as much at the end of their earthly lives as at any other time," argues Dr Clarke.

THE powerful but often unheralded work of chaplains working in hospice and palliative care settings has been examined in a new book.

Among those contributing to Chaplaincy in Hospice and Palliative Care is Dr Richard Clarke, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh. He recalls his own experience of hospice care for his late wife.

"I am personally full of gratitude for the hospice movement," he writes.

"It is so important, in the world in which we live, that there are those who will make the powerful statement - by their amazing actions of care and love for others - that people matter as much at the end of their earthly lives as at any other time.

"People are not commodities on a balance sheet. Every person has infinite value. Let that certainty never be denied."

The Rev Matthew Hagan, rector of Tynan, Aghavilly and Middletown and chaplain to the Southern Area Hospice in Newry, writes about being "sustained by the peace and tranquility" which he experiences within the hospice building in a chapter entitled 'Our Own Nourishment'.

He also describes "a great sense of God's presence" in what is said and done in what can be at times very difficult situations.

Recently retired senior chaplain at the Northern Ireland Hospice in Belfast, the Rev Caroline McAfee, has also lent her 20-year-long perspective to the book in a chapter asking 'Do We Have a Voice?'.

Rev McAfee, a former nurse and a minister in the Church of the Nazarene, considers the importance of "fighting the corner" amid competing voices for spiritual care as "one of the four pillars of palliative care", as well as discussing the frameworks of working with multi-professional teams, education and staff support.

:: Chaplaincy in Hospice and Palliative Care, co-edited by Karen Murphy and Bob Whorton, is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, £18.99.

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