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Ex-principal stretches her listening ear

February 2022 | ,

Janelle recently marked her first year as a volunteer Lutheran Hospital Chaplain at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. Your donations to the Lenten appeal help fund training and coordination for volunteer hospital chaplains.

“Have you wondered about what God has called you to do after a lifetime career? Yes, we think it should be retirement, but then you realise you might have some gifts that could be utilised. As a teacher and school Principal for many years I knew I was pretty good at talking, okay at listening, but the dilemma: I was too used to solving things rather than allowing people to determine their own decisions. I was so thankful for the opportunity to be challenged, taught, coached and mentored by Cathy Brown (who is both the Lutheran Services Lead Chaplain of LCAQD Volunteer Hospital Chaplains and Clinical Pastoral Education course instructor) and fellow trainee Chaplains.

So the outcome of this wondering is that I have just completed my first year as a Volunteer Chaplain at the Royal Brisbane Hospital (RBH) and find myself feeling so blessed through my colleagues, the hospital staff and especially the patients. The opportunity to be with people: sometimes just for a few minutes to visiting regularly for months still gives me a feeling of awe. ‘Why me God?’ To bring a smile, to support a tear or to create some laughter are all magical. But the joy of praying with someone in their darkest of hours or their most hopeful is still the richest of experiences.

COVID-19 has given Chaplains at the RBH a real responsibility, as sometimes we have been the only outside person some patients saw for weeks at a time. At times helping deliver parcels from family and friends was a surprise blessing for me. The ability to be at peace sitting with someone, listening to their journey, or laughing as they share some wonderful life experience is the keystone to building empathy and an opportunity to allow God into the space. Just being where people are at is the most important thing.

I was very grateful for the funding from Lutheran Services that allowed me to complete my Pastoral Education course and value the support of my fellow Lutheran Chaplains at our regular monthly catch ups. I would encourage others to consider becoming a volunteer and reap the rewards.”