Catholic Chaplain Corps

Mission Statement

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.

Vision Statement

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

 


Contact:
Denice Foose, 
Director
713-747-8445
Email

Office Location:
4206 S. MacGregor Way
Houston, TX 77021


 

Resources

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:

  •          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

For priests and parish staff, a contact list is available in the Parish Resources section of the website.

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. 

Pastoral Visitors

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:

  1.     Deepen the CCC’s impact in all TMC hospitals;
  2.     Introduce the CCC’s presence into hospitals in the Houston metropolitan area;
  3.     Increase pastoral contacts with Catholic patients and families in assigned hospitals;
  4.     Improve assessment of ministry requests for more accurate and timely responses;
  5.     Strengthen communication links to expedite acts of ministry’
  6.     Enhance collaborative relationships with hospital chaplaincy colleagues;
  7.     Enlarge the recruitment program of pastoral visitors;
  8.     Increase the number of pastoral visitor training opportunities; and
  9.     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.”     

Conclusion

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 dfoose@archgh.org.

Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) St. Luke’s Foundation delivered a grant of $910,588 to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to develop a more consistent, accountable, and integrated ministry of the Catholic Chaplain Corps (CCC.)  This will be accomplished in part by the creation of a new position, the professionally trained lay chaplain.  In addition, the grant expands CCC’s ministry through a bold and innovative series of educational programs and spiritual support for the Pastoral Visitor, who will visit the sick, homebound and dying in hospitals, senior facilities and homes.  Another exciting point of expansion will come through the use of technology to reach Catholic patients in settings where Pastoral Visitors/Chaplains cannot easily reach.

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.

Lay Chaplain

Another key development in the TMC outreach has been the recruitment of three 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, 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:

  1.     Become knowledgeable of Catholic patients and their spiritual needs,
  2.     Assess requests for ministry by a priest, and direct that request to the proper CCC colleague,
  3.     Provide support, coordination, and supervision of the ministry provided by pastoral visitors,
  4.     Establish collegial relationships with the chaplaincy staffs for their respective hospitals,
  5.     Become integrated into the daily operation of their chaplaincy department,
  6.     Become knowledgeable of the clinical operation of their hospital and, certainly not least,
  7.     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. 

Conclusion

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.

Local 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. 

Future Plans

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.    

Conclusion

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.

Education

For more information regarding all courses, contact Denice Foose dfoose@archgh.org or call 713-747-8445.  Send forms to Denice if interested in training/certificate.

CCC training does not have a pre-requisite.  They are not designed to be consecutive. Meeting with faculty and/or Lay Coordinator is required to determine which would be best for entry.  Courses are determined by the interest, level of skill and experience an individual may have.  You might begin with the Certificate or Module.

CCC Pastoral Care Ministry Training

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 for these volunteers are a genuine caring spirit for the other person, trustworthiness and an interest to learn. 

This introductory 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.

There is a $100 registration fee that includes all the materials for the training. Payment is due at the start of class. 

Dates & Locations

ENGLISH - Sacred Heart Conroe  – Thursdays, 6:30 p.m.– 9:00 p.m., January 9- February 27 (EMHC to Sick, March 5)

Certificate in Pastoral Care

This extensive multi-semester course, offered through University of St Thomas School of Theology, Houston, offers a deeper reflection and integration on the theological understanding of spiritual care as well as highly developed skills in pastoral care.

Meets Thursdays at St. Mary’s Seminary, during the school year for the theological and pastoral skills components.  For Registration information please contact Denice Foose: dfoose@archgh.org

Certificate in Pastoral Care Details

Pastoral Visitors enhance their effectiveness and ministry enjoyment by attending ongoing formation through gatherings and enrichment seminars.  Follow the links below for what is offered.

Tools for Medical Decision-Making

 

Region One Enrichment Calendar

Regional/Archdiocesan

August 23: MAMC Dementia Workshop: St Mary’s Seminary 9-noon, rsvp dfoose@archgh.org (if you want to carpool, meet at SSJ parking lot.  Let me know in advance to make sure we have enough seats!)

August 28: Ted Talk St.AoP St. Teresa Bldg Room 110 1-2:30 pm, Topic: Spirituality in Diverse Population

September 17:Foundational Trainingbegins through October 29, 12:30—3:30 PM

October 6: TOOLS FOR MEDICAL DECISION-MAKING  2:30-4:00 PM Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center  RSVP by Sept 20 dfoose@archgh.org

November 5: Ted Talk St.AoP Parish Life Bldg 203 (room may change, watch for update) 1-2:30 pm

December TBA: Regional Christmas Party

February 19: Ted Talk St.AoP St. Teresa Bldg Room 1-2:30 pm, Topic: Physical Pain – Acute and Chronic

March 21: Morning of Reflection: Radical Gratitude  St.AoP St. Teresa Center 110  8:30 am-Noon

May 6: Ted Talk Sacred Heart Conroe, Parish Life Bldg,1-2:30 pm, Topic:

 

Teams

(Most session Topics yet to be determined, will update, please send topic ideas)

Forum Senior Living Gathering SSJ Ministry House Room A 12:30-2:00 pm

  • October 2, January 22, April 1, June 17 - Topic & Verbatim with Ted & Denice, August 19

Hospice Care Team Gathering: SSJ Ministry House Room A 12:30-2:00 pm

  • August 7 - Topic: Narratives and Remembering, September 25, October 23, December 4, other dates as needed

Memorial Hermann Hospital Gathering SSJ Ministry House Room A 12:30-2:00 pm

  • September 18, January 15, March 25 - Topic & Verbatim with Ted & Denice, June 3, August 5

Methodist Hospital Gathering SHC St. Teresa Room 1:30-3:00 pm

  • September 3 - Topic: Extemporaneous Prayer & Bringing Holy Communion update, January 21- Topic & Verbatim with Ted & Denice, March 31, June 2, August 11

St. Luke Hospital Gathering SSJ Ministry House Room A 1:30-3:00 pm

  • September 10 - Topic: Deepening the Conversation & Verbatim, January 14, April 7 - Topic & Verbatim with Ted & Denice, June 9, August 4

More to Come:

Watch for information on CCC retreats offered throughout the year, plus other enrichment opportunities.  The Commissioning Mass will be in either August or September 2020.

The Avila Institute of Gerontology has collaborated with the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm creating two different Ministry programs to educate caregivers based on the values and charisms of their Foundress, Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory, O.Carm. These programs are taught by members of the Carmelite Sisters to members of the Catholic Community. The Mother Angeline Ministries was designed for Parishes looking to implement or enhance their elder care ministry programs.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has formed a partnership to offer this series of Ministry Trainings. These are open to anyone interested in this ministry: volunteers, caregivers, and persons employed in the care of the aged, infirm and dying.

Mother Angeline Ministries of Care (MAMC)

The Mother Angeline Ministries of Care (MAMC) is a one-day volunteer parish outreach program that promotes the ideals and values of Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory, O.Carm, Foundress of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. Taught by the Carmelite Sisters, this on-site program focuses on bringing Christ to the Homebound and Sick of our faith community. As trained outreach volunteers mirror Mother Angeline's spirit of kindness, joy, and prayer, they allow each person to feel the compassion and love of Christ in a deeply personal way. Through the care and concern for each individual visited, the Ministries also promotes respect for life, especially in its later stages. It adheres to the moral and ethical teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and abides by diocesan policies and procedures which govern its activities.

Become a Minister of Care Brochure

MAMC Training Modules build on each other.  One must take Module I before Module II.

MAMC Training Modules

This seminar includes an overview of the life of Mother Angeline Teresa and her founding of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.  It also includes an overview of the meaning of the ministry of care based on scripture and the life and philosophy of Mother Angeline.  This session provides the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the ministry, Scripture, and the individual call to ministry.  Included are basic skills for spiritual listening and information on the spirituality of the aged.

MAMC Module I - 2020 dates pending.

This seminar is designed for those who wish to address the special needs of the frail and the dying.  This session covers skills used in the support of persons in the terminal stage of illness, providing them and their loved ones with spiritual comfort and compassion.  Participants must have completed Module I.

MAMC Module II - 2020 dates pending.

Volunteers who wish to lead the Mother Angeline Ministry within their parish or region are given training that focuses on how to establish a branch, what are the best practices, and what support you will receive.  Coordinators have completed Module I & II, and have been vetted for their organizational skills, ability to screen and lead volunteers, maintain ethical and moral standards and radiate enthusiasm for the ministry.

MAMC Coordinator Training - 2020 dates pending.

The Avila Institute of Gerontology has developed several programs to enrich the expertise and skill level of long-term care professionals and caregivers working with the elderly, including those who are on a new path or those looking to refresh their skill set. The Dementia and Behavior Management Training programs are group trainings that are designed to educate care staff and teach the leadership team to successfully implement and sustain the program. All Avila Institute programs are available to long-term care professionals and caregivers who seek further knowledge on Geriatric Spiritual Care, Palliative Care, Carmelite Mission and Leadership. 

2020 dates pending.

TBD

Catholic Chaplain Corps Newsletter

 

Inspired to Serve - Issue 1

Denice Foose, Director
Office 713-747-8445
Email Denice

Kate Bond, Executive Assistant
Office 713-747-8445
Email Kate

Nannette Coons, Lay Chaplain
Region One, Conroe & The Woodlands
Cell: 713-256-5038
Email Nannette

Dawn Malone, Lay Chaplain
Memorial Hermann TMC
Office: 713-704-4166
Email Dawn

Romani  Perera, Lay Chaplain
Texas Children’s Medical Center
Baylor Saint Luke’s Medical Center

Office: 832-355-5247
Email Romani