Pastoral Care

Rose is a deeply compassionate person.  That essential quality in ministry undergirds both her pastoral presence and her commitment to justice making.  She is kind, curious, and inherently relational.  She likes other people and they like her. She is skilled in conflict management, bringing her considerable resilience and ability to listen deeply into situation from which many would prefer to flee.  -Rev. Rob Eller-Isaacs


The University of Minnesota Medical Center.  This gigantic hospital that spans the Mississippi river is the location of my current work.


Rose worked for some time as hospital chaplain resident.  Her assignment covered three locked mental health units in the largest behavior health hospital in the upper midwest.  She was solely responsible for the spiritual care of the unit of the most mentally ill people in the hospital, and her patients spanned the ages of 13-92.  She was also on-call for the entire hospital once a week and frequently respond to families or individuals experiencing loss and to patients facing serious surgery.  


Listening as if for One’s Life-Philosophy of Pastoral Care

“…Miss Hughes lifted her head, and, looking out the window, told us that there was one of us, sitting now in our midst, who listened to the music in a manner quite unlike the rest.  ‘He listens as if for his life, boys and girls, and it is in this manner that the music of the anointed was written.'”  The Anointed by Kathleen Hill


What does it mean to listen as if for one’s life?  It is to know that your own survival is bound up with the people around you. To listen to another human being speak is to join in the sacred and intuitive journey of gaining a new perspective on one’s deepest questions.  And, it is to activate compassion and empathy.

Pastoral care is the connective tissue of ministry, for it links us together and builds avenues of trust, love, knowing, and of being known.  For the minister, being invited to share in the holy moments of people’s lives is a great privilege, and to sit with people in their pain and not shy away in anxiety is as much of a skill as preaching. To preach one must be able to read, write, think, speak, reflect, and wrestle with meaning; for pastoral care one must simply listen and revere.  As Kathleen Hill says in her short story The Anointed, “For the mysteries of someone else’s life we reserve our deepest bow.”  For everyone, survival and connection to the spiritual world is bound up with the people around us.  And for the minister, too; hearing the stories of and staying in relationship with the congregation is integral to serving with integrity.