Catholic Chaplain Corps
- CCC History
- Bold Vision 2017
- Pastoral Visitors
- TMC Outreach
- Regional Outreach
The Catholic Chaplain Corps’ mission is to bring the healing ministry of Jesus to the Infirm, Imprisoned, Aged and Dying of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston through trained clergy and laity. In collaboration with our parishes, we offer education and support to our ministers so that we become a source of hope and consolation, bringing Christ’s compassion and love in a deeply personal way through kindness, joy, and prayer.
To be the aroma of Christ to the Infirm, Imprisoned, Aged and Dying.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.
- 2 Corinthians 2:14-17
Facilities served by the Catholic Chaplain Corps
(call the CCC Main number 713-747-8445 for referrals)
Texas Medical Center:
Baylor St Luke's Hospital
Ben Taub Hospital
M D Anderson
Memorial Hermann Southwest
Texas Children's Hospital
Conroe Regional (HCA) Hospital
Houston Methodist Hospital
St. Luke's Hospital
Texas Children’s Hospital
Denice Foose, Director
4206 S. MacGregor Way
Houston, TX 77021
National Association of Catholic Chaplains - The National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) is cultivating the ministry of chaplaincy and transforming spiritual care locally, nationally, and globally to faithfully reflect the healing presence of Jesus Christ by:
- COVID-19 spiritual resources and updates.
- forming life-giving relationships with individuals, families, colleagues, and organizations;
- advancing compassionate care through creative educational and spiritual growth opportunities;
- promoting the dignity of persons of every age, culture, and state in life.
On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering - Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, 1984
Anointing of the Sick - United States Bishops information about the Sacrament and works of mercy
Texas Medical Center (TMC)
The story of the CCC begins many years ago with the emergence of the Texas Medical Center (TMC). This backward glance is necessary because it is important to understand the context from which the CCC developed.
Initial planning for a world-class medical complex in Houston took shape in the early 1940s as community leaders and philanthropists began to dream of a “City of Medicine.” After a few years of national research into leading medical centers and extensive negotiation with state academic institutions, the Texas Medical Center was chartered in 1945 by the state of Texas as a non-profit corporation. As public support increased and the vision was embraced, the major TMC hospitals began their construction projects in the early 1950s. The momentum continued with ground-breaking surgical and clinical innovations and TMC hospitals attracted more and more patients regionally, nationally, and even internationally.
A core value of the TMC’s vision was the integration of religious faith into its healthcare service. Reflective of that commitment, “The Institute of Religion” was established and originally located in the geographical heart of the TMC. In addition, hospitals established chaplaincy departments to help meet the religious needs of patients and families. As one might expect, a significant percentage (20%+) of those hospital patients identified themselves as Catholic. As the number of out-of-town (and state) patients continued to rise, it became increasingly apparent the historic model of a nearby parish priest serving hospital patients was inadequate and a new approach was required.
The Catholic Chaplain Corps (CCC) – late 1960’s
Bishop John Markovsky, Diocese of Galveston-Houston, responded creatively to this challenge. He initiated a new program in 1967, designed to better serve the sacramental and spiritual needs of Catholic patients and families. Bishop Markovsky drew upon the concept of a designated group of Catholic priests whose sole responsibility was ministry to hospital patients and families. To strengthen this approach, this group of priests would live together in community at a location near the TMC. Each priest would be appointed as a temporary pastor to Catholics “residing” in the hospital. In this way, the priest would work collaboratively with the hospital chaplaincy department, receive a census of Catholic patients and provide ministry in coordination with the hospital staff. Reflective of the archdiocese’s investment to the program, financial support was provided through the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF).
This community of priests would be given the designation “corps,” signifying their function as a body of colleagues committed to a common ministry. True to a corps spirit, they would support each other in their work and live in a brotherhood community. Striving to give comprehensive service, these priests would provide crisis and non-crisis ministry every hour of the day, every day of the year. This innovative program would eventually be entitled the “Catholic Chaplain Corps,” or the “CCC” for short. While deacons and pastoral visitors (lay volunteers) have subsequently joined the ranks of the CCC, the CCC priests remain the cornerstone of this ministry.
Training for CCC Priests
Given the specialized nature of hospital ministry, these priests were encouraged to participate in professional clinical training to further develop their pastoral skills. This type of training has become invaluable when combined with their expertise in sacramental ministry. By extension, these priests then better serve the patients’ unique emotional and spiritual needs. They can also better serve the patients’ families, as they cope with the hospitalization of their loved one. Another important dimension of their training is increased knowledge about healthcare and, thus, become better able to integrate into the operation of the hospital staff to promote optimum care for Catholic patients.
Deacons and Pastoral Visitors – 1990’s and 21st Century
As the TMC continued its phenomenal growth in the 1990s and 2000s, the Archdiocese deepened its commitment to TMC Catholic patients and families by mobilizing and integrating clinically trained deacons and pastoral visitors into hospital ministry. They were assigned to chaplaincy departments to enhance the scope and depth of Catholic ministry. Their inclusion into the model of priest-centered hospital ministry represented the clear recognition of the rich resources of deacons and laity within the Church to serve hospitalized Catholic sisters and brothers.
The contributions of pastoral visitors deserve special mention. While perhaps undervalued in the past, Vatican II made clear the importance of lay ministry to the mission of the Church. Honoring the mandate of this historic Council, the Archdiocese through the CCC began a program of recruiting and training gifted Catholic women and men to serve in the full range of ministry settings, including hospitals and health-related institutions. These pastoral visitors joined an equally committed group of trained deacons to increase the CCC’s outreach to TMC Catholic patient and families. (For additional information about pastoral visitors, please see the Pastoral Visitors tab.)
Need for Healthcare Ministry Expands
As the end of the first decade of the 21st-century approaches, the statistics for health-related facilities in the Archdiocese continue to soar. For instance, the TMC alone consists of over 11,000 patient beds and employs over 106,000 healthcare professionals and support staff. Moreover, there is a total of 84 hospitals in Harris County. The magnitude of hospital ministry needs becomes even more graphic with the reminder that Harris is only one of 10 counties within the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese. A comprehensive perspective must also include other facilities, such as hospices, rehabilitation units and senior-care establishments. It is difficult to estimate how many identified Catholic women and men currently utilize all these institutions. Hospital census studies, however, reveal that at least 20% of the patients identify themselves as Catholics. This percentage seems quite credible when the Archdiocese population of 1.77 million Catholics is included as background demographic data.
Clearly, providing effective sacramental and pastoral care ministry to this large population is challenging. But the CCC is making significant inroads in meeting the challenge! Emboldened with a major grant, the CCC chartered a bold vision and has made a decisive start. This exciting part of the CCC’s story can be found in the next section: “Dramatic Advance Forward – 2017.”
A Dramatic Advance Forward – 2017
A Marvelous Grant
In 2013 Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), a national nonprofit health system, acquired the St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System, including St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital located in the Texas Medical Center. (CHI subsequentially merged with Dignity Health System to form CommonSpirit Health, now based in Chicago.)
In 2017 the Texas Division of CHI made a unique and significant grant to the Archdiocese based upon one of its core values: healthy communities. This grant was given to enhance sacramental and pastoral care ministry to Catholic patients in hospitals in the Archdiocese.
With the strong support from the chancery and profound gratitude to CHI, the CCC launched a new, comprehensive vision for hospital ministry throughout the Archdiocese in 2017. This exciting program will be described below. Before proceeding, however, it should be understood that the CHI grant, while substantial, is not perpetual. While it provides vital seed money, the CCC will ultimately be dependent upon the Archdiocese and the DSF to sustain its vision into the 21st century. (For additional information about the CHI grant, use this hyperlink.)
A Bold Vision
The CHI grant enabled the CCC to chart an enterprising vision for sacramental and pastoral ministry for the Archdiocese. Fully endorsed and supported by the chancery leadership, the CCC has made significant progress in implementing the initial phase of the program during its initial 18 months of operation. During this short period, enhancing ministry effectiveness, broadening ministry outreach, establishing stronger administrative oversight, expanding lay recruitment, and revising the training curriculum have all been major emphases. Significant progress has been made in each area thanks to the dedicated work of many CCC colleagues. They caught the vision, worked diligently, and are determined to sustain and enhance the program in the coming years.
A productivity report is not relevant here. A fuller description, however, of the program’s primary objectives can provide added clarity. This delineation gives an important picture of the program’s scope:
- Deepen the CCC’s impact in all TMC hospitals;
- Introduce the CCC’s presence into hospitals in the Houston metropolitan area;
- Increase pastoral contacts with Catholic patients and families in assigned hospitals;
- Improve assessment of ministry requests for more accurate and timely responses;
- Strengthen communication links to expedite acts of ministry’
- Enhance collaborative relationships with hospital chaplaincy colleagues;
- Enlarge the recruitment program of pastoral visitors;
- Increase the number of pastoral visitor training opportunities; and
- Expand the geographical locations of the training events.
As the first two objectives indicate, the CCC focused its energy in two geographical areas: the TMC and a region site. The Woodlands / Conroe area was selected for its regional pilot program. Additional information about these two major efforts can be found under the headings: “TMC Outreach” and “Regional Outreach.”
Clearly, this is an exciting era in the history of the CCC. Drawing upon its rich history of service to Catholic hospital patients and families, the CCC’s best years are in the future. Catholic sisters and brothers are now being served more effectively. With the continued support of the archdiocese leadership – and yours(!) – the CCC is confident its vision for this ministry will be even more fruitful, and ultimately pleasing to the Church and our triune God.
“Time spent with the sick and imprisoned is holy time….Wisdom of the heart means going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters.” Pope Francis
This brief but insightful message by Pope Francis is an important summons to serve in ministry for all of us – clergy and laity.
The CCC has a special commitment to Catholic women and men who feel the stirrings Pope Francis referenced and move out of themselves to serve. Many of the Catholic laity want to spend quality time with the sick, time marked by patient, compassionate companionship with those in need. Time characterized by careful listening which gives time and space for the other to speak from the heart, those fears and those joys. This is quality time which is rare in the everyday course of human interaction.
The CCC calls Catholic laity, who offer this type of time to the sick, pastoral visitors. These sisters and brothers in Christ are massively important to the CCC. Their ministry is core to the CCC’s vision.
Pastoral visitors’ ability to listen empathically, offering effective emotion and spiritual support, augments the sacramental ministry of CCC priests in powerful ways. With the daily guidance and support by assigned lay chaplains, pastoral visitors do not offer ministry in isolation but in close collaboration with a skilled, trusted lay chaplain colleague.
Advancing the ministry of diocesan pastoral visitors has a solid start. There are currently over 275 CCC pastoral visitors currently serving in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. In addition, more than 190 Catholic women and men have completed the CCC Foundation (introductory) Course in pastoral care ministry in the past 18 months. While this is an impressive start, the archdiocese and the CCC are determined to expand this lay ministry. There are so many opportunities to sustain persons in need in Christ’s name.
If you are interested in learning more about the CCC pastoral visitor program, please contact the CCC office at 713-747-8445 or email Denice Foose at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While engaged in ministry in the TMC for decades, the CCC took action to enhance its presence and improve ministry to Catholic patents and families. Through the CCC’s leadership and guidance, the effectiveness of outreach has been enhanced, focusing on the development of the Pastoral Visitor in collaboration with Lay Chaplain and CCC priests.
Another key development in the TMC outreach has been the recruitment of two gifted Catholic laypersons to serve as a “lay chaplain.” Employed by the archdiocese and administratively accountable to the CCC Director, these clinically-trained laypersons have been assigned to a specific TMC hospital. As of August 2019, those hospitals involved in this new alliance with the CCC include Baylor St. Luke’s, Texas Children’s, Houston Methodist, and Memorial Hermann Medical Center.
Lay chaplains have broad job descriptions involving a network of work colleagues, they occupy a strategic position in the CCC vision. Their responsibilities include:
- Become knowledgeable of Catholic patients and their spiritual needs,
- Assess requests for ministry by a priest, and direct that request to the proper CCC colleague,
- Provide support, coordination, and supervision of the ministry provided by pastoral visitors,
- Establish collegial relationships with the chaplaincy staffs for their respective hospitals,
- Become integrated into the daily operation of their chaplaincy department,
- Become knowledgeable of the clinical operation of their hospital and, certainly not least,
- Provide direct ministry to Catholic patients and families as required.
In the brief history of the new program, these lay chaplains have made important contributions to improving the CCC’s overall productivity.
The TMC Outreach has already made a dynamic impact. Ministry to Catholic patients and families has been strengthened, important relationships with the leadership of chaplaincy departments have been forged, and the ranks of pastoral visitors has increased and are now better trained. Yet, this is only a beginning. The TMC is a huge complex with more Catholic patients and families to serve. The CCC and the Archdiocese are fully committed to moving the vision forward.
Regional hospitals in metropolitan Houston have increased in number and size in the past few years. Their continued growth is expected. Their expansion is due in large part to their increased medical expertise and emergence as referral hospitals for smaller rural hospitals in east and northeast Texas. Included in this influx of new patients are scores of identified Catholics who travel significant distances from their residences and home parishes.
The CCC began its regional outreach with a pilot program in The Woodlands / Conroe area. While the regional design utilizes three of the essential CCC positions of the TMC model (CCC priest, lay chaplain, pastoral visitors), it also differs in significant ways. Perhaps the most striking is the direct involvement of local parishes. In 2018, due to the wonderful leadership of their respective pastors, these three exemplary parishes joined together to launch the regional program: Sacred Heart, St. Anthony of Padua, and Sts. Simon and Jude. Their commitment included financial support for the lay chaplain position which serves the region. These pastors also work cooperatively with the assigned CCC priest to the region to meet pastoral needs. The CCC is grateful to Fr. Philip Wilhite, Fr. Tom Rafferty, and Fr. Pat Garrett for their willingness to embrace a new approach and their commitment to sustain.
Regional Lay Chaplain
Another point of distinction of the regional outreach is the wide scope of responsibilities inherent in the regional lay chaplain position. A gifted, clinically-trained Catholic layperson was hired to serve in this capacity. Requiring adaptability to differing institutional cultures, the lay chaplain works collaboratively with multiple hospitals, not only one like the TMC model. Currently, the regional lay chaplain works with five hospitals. Relationships have been formed with the chaplaincy staff of each these hospitals and familiarization made with their individual policies for patient and family ministry.
Like the TMC model, each hospital has a group of dedicated pastoral visitors who provide important pastoral care ministry. Their ministry is supervised and supported by the lay chaplain. Here again, establishing collaborative relationships is essential to assisting the vital ministry of these devoted Catholic women and men.
Senior Residence Facility
A third unique feature of the regional model is the scope of its outreach, to establish ministry service in addition to the five hospitals. The regional lay chaplain has established a collaborative relationship with the administration of one senior residence home, along with lay ministry to its senior population.
The lay chaplain has ambitious plans to extend the CCC ministry to area hospice programs, rehabilitation units, and other health-related institutions to establish the gold standard, called the continuum of care. Additional work is required, but the vision of the regional outreach is for ministry excellence.
The CCC is mindful of all eleven regions in the Archdiocese and moving including regions beyond the “north metropolitan” area is an important CCC goal. While there is no current time schedule, the advancement of the CCC’s strategic vision throughout the Archdiocese, in close collaboration with the chancery leadership, has sacred importance to everyone.
For more information regarding all courses, contact Kate Bond email@example.com or call 713-747-8445.
Pastoral Visitors provide emotional and spiritual support for people in their pain, loss and anxiety, as well as their triumphs and joys. They are not a counselor or teacher but an accompanier. Essential qualities/skills for these pastoral visitors are a genuine caring spirit for the other person, trustworthiness and an interest to learn.
A CCC course helps you develop the skills to step respectfully and compassionately into another’s life or illness story. You will become more skilled in empathic listening and increase your knowledge about pastoral care. Skills benefit those who serve in pastoral care or outreach ministry: those who bring Holy Communion to the sick and elderly; volunteers in hospitals, nursing homes or outreach centers; those who visit the homebound or imprisoned; and more. With enhanced skills, your enjoyment of ministry will increase as your care becomes more effective.
Foundations: Pastoral Visitor Training
Thursdays 9 - 10:45
August 5, August 19, September 2, September 16, September 30, October 14, November 4, November 11
Saturdays 9 - 10:45
August 7, August 21, September 4, September 18, October 2, October 16, November 6, November 13
This training is designed to equip laypersons to serve as Pastoral Visitors, providing pastoral care ministry to Catholic and non-Catholic (ecumenical and interfaith) sisters and brothers in a variety of institutional settings. You become a part of the Archdiocesan CCC Pastoral Visitation Team and attend ongoing formation and enrichment.
- Prerequisite: Laypersons seeking this ministry must have a Letter of Recommendation from their pastor or designated parish person before entering the Foundation Course. An interview with a team member will be scheduled after a Letter of Recommendation, a spiritual autobiography, and application have been received.
- Eucharistic Ministry Training: Persons wanting to serve Holy Communion, while serving as a Pastoral Visitor, will also receive training for this specialized ministry in the Foundation Course.
- Getting Started: After completing the prerequisites, you will meet with a CCC team member and discuss interest and expectations. Interested persons attend an orientation session and begin ministry in an approved setting before entering the training program.
- Experience with an assigned mentor will accelerate your ministry orientation process
- You attend regional enrichment seminars during orientation time.
- CMG Safe Environment is due at this time.
Foundation Course – structural elements
- The ministry responsibility is sensitive to time limitations for persons who are employed on a fulltime basis. Therefore, ministry duties can be performed during weekdays, Saturdays, or weekday evenings.
- 8 sessions that are 105 minutes each
- We will meet virtually on Thursday or Saturday
Foundation Course – educational topics
- Enhance skills for pastoral care ministry as a Pastoral Visitor, with its emphasis upon empathic listening
- Gain introductory knowledge on grief, trauma and impact of illness upon families
- Deepen capacity to reflect upon personal ministry to further improve skills and increase knowledge
- Interact with ministry colleagues to gain additional insights and deepen a sense of community among Pastoral Visitors.
Eucharistic Ministry Training (EMT) – Homebound and Nursing Home Ministry
This important, 8-hour course is designed to equip persons to effectively provide Holy Communion to Catholic sisters and brothers who are homebound or residents in Nursing Homes. You serve as a part of your parish ministry and are encouraged to deepen your commitment through periodic enrichment opportunities in your parish. You must be commissioned by your parish.
- Prerequisite: Persons seeking this ministry must be commissioned Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion by their Parish before entering the training.
- Getting Started:After completing the registration form, you will meet with a CCC pastoral minister and discuss interest and expectations.
- Pastoral Visitor Ministry: Persons seeking to serve as Pastoral Visitors must complete a different training course.* Most hospital systems require those who bring Holy Communion to the sick in their institutions have the Pastoral Visitor Training.
Eucharistic Ministry Training – structural elements
- Two 4-hour sessions; total 8 hours of training
- Offered in both English and Spanish
Eucharistic Ministry Training – educational topics
- Spiritual meaning of Holy Communion and Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick for Catholic laity
- Introduction to empathic listening
- Scope and boundaries of pastoral care ministry
- Use of prayer and scripture in ministry
Registration and Dates Pending
2021 Silent Retreat Schedule
Due to COVID-19, all silent retreats have been postponed.
Nourishing the Empty Space
Continuing its strong commitment to the ongoing development of trained Pastoral Visitors, the CCC is pleased to announce our “Nourishing the Empty Space” series. These Enrichment seminars are especially timely given the necessary “stay in place” precautions in this terrible coronavirus pandemic.
These monthly 60-minute seminars will be conducted on Mondays at two different times: 10:00 am – 11:00 am and 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm. The same material is covered in both sessions.
The sessions will be offered through a “Zoom” online virtual format, which can be used via a computer, tablet or smartphone. * No registration needed and there is no charge. The link will be sent out to all registered Pastoral Visitors on the day of the training. The same link will work for both meetings, sign on to whichever you wish to attend.
Winter / Spring 2021
Time and Structure
• Five 60-minute monthly seminars, January – May
• Every fourth Thursday: January 28, February 25, March 25, April 22 and May 27 • Duplicate seminars: 10am & 4:00pm
• Team taught
• Seminars are open to everyone. No prior training is required.
• No recommended reading or writing opportunities.
• No certificate will be issued upon completion of the series.
Pastoral Care Topics:
• Advice Giving: The Wisdom of Not Being Wise (January 28)
• Reframing: A Lot Depends on How You Look at It (February 25)
• Confrontation: Facing the Truths That Hurt (March 25)
• Sacred Secrecy: Confidentiality and the Shepherding Relationship (April 22) • Hope: Element in Pastoral Care (May 27)
ANYONE is welcome, even those who have not yet taken pastoral visitor training. This is a great time to invite a friend or family member who may be interested in exploring what we offer.
*Need help with Zoom? Contact Nannette Coons firstname.lastname@example.org
Catholic Chaplain Corps Newsletter
Denice Foose, Director
Kate Bond, Executive Assistant
Office Email Kate
Nannette Coons, Lay Chaplain
Region One, Conroe & The Woodlands
Cell: Email Nannette
Dawn Malone, Lay Chaplain
Memorial Hermann TMC
Office: Email Dawn
Romani Perera, Lay Chaplain
Texas Children’s Medical Center
Baylor Saint Luke’s Medical Center
Office: Email Romani