Sunday, October 10, 2004

A hermit as a hospital chaplain?

An article in yesterday's edition of my hometown paper focuses on Father Mike Racine, a diocesan priest who heads the Pastoral Care Department at St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Most of the piece is a fairly straightforward account of the work of a hospital chaplain; about halfway through the text, however, the article lists the personnel of Father Racine's department, including three religious sisters and three priests, one of whom is "hermit Father John of the Trinity, who lives in solitude." This unusual line understandably piqued my interest - a solitary hermit working as a hospital chaplain? Intrigued, I looked to Google for more info and turned up only this page identifying the enigmatic Father John as "a Carmelite priest and hermit living in Massachusetts." Though the golden age of eremetical religious life is long past, I have heard in the past of hermits still living here and there with the recognition and approval of ecclesiastical authorities. However, this is the first time I've heard of one actively engaged in apostolic work. I'd be curious how such an arrangement works - does Father John actually go to the hospital, or does he simply pray for patients from the solitude of his hermitage? This could have been grist for an offbeat human interest story ("Hermit emerges from solitude to visit the sick"), but the Standard-Times reporter apparently passed up on it.

As for my own "hospital" ministry, I'll have more to say on that later in the week. Tomorrow morning I start out at the Jesuit infirmary at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan and on Tuesday I'll be visiting residents at the Abbey Living Center in Warren. Stay tuned. AMDG.


At October 11, 2004 11:44 AM, Blogger Melaina RN, PHN, MS, CNS, ACHPN said...

I am particularly interested in stories of hospital chaplains' experiences, so I will look forward to your future postings on this subject.

At October 11, 2004 1:51 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Joe --

I suspect that your hospital work will be extraordinarily fulfilling. I remember well my SJ-friends' stories about their ministry in NYC AIDS hospitals. I remember better their stories about prison ministry in upstate NY.

nSJ: So, what are you here for?
Arsonist: Arson
nSJ: Ah. So . . . do you have any hobbies?
Arsonist: I like to burn things.


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