Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chaplaincy Studies ~ Final Essay by Rev. Murman

Lesson 20 ~ Chaplaincy Studies ~ Final Essay
By:  Rev. Trent Murman, OSM, OSF
This Chaplaincy Study Program has opened my eyes to many facets of ministry which I and probably most of us would not have had the pleasure of contemplating or researching.  In the beginning I was a bit skeptical about pursuing the course.  However, Rev. Amy Long inspired me to continue with it by her words of wisdom that "you can do it" attitude.  I thank her for that inspiration.  I have a fresh conception of the role of the chaplain within the community.  There are many community members that may not have the resources or means to seek out a religious avenue.  In my understanding the role of the chaplain is to seek these people out and not change their ways of worship or beliefs, but to guide them, listen to them and provide the comforting ear which so many of them may need. 
I have been helping people for the past 40 years which started when I was nineteen and had just joined the military.  This part of my life's journey was and is so much a part of my daily life to have the privilege of serving these fine men and women that continuously put themselves in harms way for all us so we may continue to live in the secure nation know and love today.  I think it is imperative that all ministers develop their own style of conducting their ministry, but never lose sight of one of our greatest assets is to learn and develop the fine art of listening.  It is most important to remember sometimes all some individuals want is just someone to use as a sounding board and this is okay.  Granted we are not doctors nor psychiatrists, but we do and should have a good understand of compassion and the will to help/listen to our fellow man, from the small child to the elderly, everyone is most important not only in His eyes but in our own eyes.  Keeping in mind that we and our fellow ministers are not "all knowing" it is not only good networking technique but a continued learning process by keeping in touch with our fellow clergy.  I have learned that much can be accomplished by drawing from others and them drawing from you own life experiences.  Our ministry can be situated in many different places. We are not confined to a physical location such as a church, synagogue or other building, but can actually be anywhere in our travels.  It is also interesting to know that His work is not a passing entity in the night.  I have discovered that there seems to be a new younger generation growing up closer to God.  It is so heartwarming to know that these youngsters and future leaders of this great nation are leaning towards the helping hand of God and are willing to carry out His work.  We need to remember a ministry is not limited to a physical location, but all ministers can and I feel are obligated to spread the word of God whenever called upon, whether it be in a parking lot, at an accident scene, nursing home, private home or traveling from state to state.  I feel it is our duty to help where it is needed and when it is needed.  We don't hang up our collars at 5 pm.  A huge part of our responsibilities is to counsel those who are grieving.  This is not limited to the dying patient, but many times extends outward to the family members.  Unfortunately, many of our elderly and those afflicted with terminal disease may be left in nursing homes.  These places can be very depressing and family members tend to think "well the nursing staff is there, they will be okay".  This is not always true.   It is true the nursing staff is there to attend to their physical needs, but it is not always enough.  These patients need the comfort only family members can provide.  Wen chaplains visit the sick or dying it is best to allow themselves to show compassion, sincerity and even emotion.  We are not cold bricks of ice just going through the motions.  We are obligated to help all persons of all faiths.  Anointing of the sick is accepted in most faiths and I feel no other clergy member would mind if you tended to their people/followers in their gravest time of need.  It is my sole belief that no man, woman or child should pass from this earth to the next part of their journey alone.  I know He would not want this and we being an instrument of Him need to comfort and help whenever possible.  When performing ceremonies, be sure to research out the clients.  Making sure this is what both parties want.  No one should enter into a religious contract unfaithfully.  Ceremonies are legally binding, not only in the eyes of the law, but in His eyes also.  This reaches the part of our ministries known as accountability.  All clergy of all faiths are and should be held accountable for everything they do and accomplish in His name sake. 
I continued to learn, as everyone should, about different faiths, the positions many clergy take and the responsibility of being prepared for anything i.e., accidents while traveling and performing anointing's and rites at the scene of a disaster.  There is a saying I have modified to fit my duties….If when in turmoil, you can keep your head when everyone else is losing theirs God has blessed you and will guide you to do what is right.  (Which is the motto of our seminary)  In my humble opinion:  I found this Chaplaincy Course very well thought out and presented.  This course should not be taken lightly.  However, an ecclesiastical endorsement when the course is completed would be of great advantage.  I believe most Chaplain courses that I have researched offer this to those who complete the course.  As I am sure most people who know me are aware my main goal in taking this Chaplaincy course is to further work with our armed forces vets.  My military service was a great teaching experience and learning experience of my younger years.  I continue to have the utmost respect for our men and women who have and are currently serving in the military.  Many times I have often bought lunches or dinners for a group of soldiers I may see in a restaurant without them knowing it was me who paid for their meal.  It is an honor to see their faces light up when the waitress/waiter tells them "your meal has been paid for".  I also make it a practice to thank them for their service to our country no matter where I see them, i.e., grocery store, shopping center, airport or dining place.  I think it is important they feel loved and we should be honored to be in their presence.  I also feel my personal motto:  No man/woman should die alone.  Everyone should be comforted during this passage, if nothing more than to just be there, gently hold their hand, softly talk with them, even if they can't respond to our voices.  I believe the hearing is the last to leave our physical body and a soothing voice may help them cross over to their Fathers house.   May the Peace of the Lord be with you and everyone in their ministry no matter how big or small it may be.  GO IN PEACE

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 19

Lesson 19 ~ Chaplaincy Studies ~ The Chaplains Toolbox ~ Essay

By:  Rev. Trent Murman, OSM, OSF


Write a paragraph describing your "tool belt" and your "tool box."  In my personal toolbox/tool belt I carry a few items that distinguish me as clergy.  Like most clergy I have on myself at all times my business cards.  This allows me to not only leave proof that I was there to visit with the person, but to introduce myself to the family if need be.  There are many times you may go to visit with the sick and they may be away for hospital tests and instead of waiting around for them to return, I leave my card in a place convenient for them or a family member to see and make note on the card when I plan to be in that area again or of course they may contact me if they wish to see me at another time other than what is designated.  If I am called to see a client in the emergency room I always take my, what I call, situation case with me.  Here I have a Ministers Guide Book for particular ceremonies, Communion wafers and drink, Holy Water and Anointing Oil.  This allows me to be prepared for which ever situation confronts me at the time of my visit.  If a client is not of my particular faith I will ask the E.R. staff if their own particular clergy is on their way and if there is time to wait for them.  If there is time to wait, I will stand by to comfort the client and family members and when their clergy arrives I introduce myself to him/her and then promptly excuse myself.  I also have at my disposal my personal cell phone which allows me to schedule appointments, web browse, make phone calls, etc.  I also carry with me a small pad of paper and of course a pen to jot down particulars.  However, I never jot down particulars regarding what the client and I have discussed, please remember this is to remain private and no one should accidentally come across this information….it is usually on a need to know basis and the forgiveness of sins is personal.  If the patient is in a critical situation, I usually ask one family member to stay with me, this may also allow the patient to be more at ease or a nursing staff member to remain and they are advised that whatever they hear is strictly confidential and must not nor cannot be repeated under any circumstances.  If the patient is too critical it really wouldn't matter because they probably wouldn't be able to talk and I would just simply help prepare them for the next part of their journey.  I find it reassuring to the patient's family if they can witness what I am doing, this sometimes puts their minds at ease that their family member was properly prepared.  I always carry with me my visitation stole (purple/white).  This tends to make things a tad bit more professional.  I usually start out by asking the patient if they have accepted Jesus as their savior…if they reply yes then I go on with the anointing, usually on the hand.  If they request baptism I do this quickly on the forehead.  After all is taken care of I conclude with the Hail Mary [the patient and the family can say it with me aloud].  And finish up with….In the name of the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit….Go In Peace.  I find this to be sufficient to be in my toolbox.  If the family requests me to stay around for grief counseling with other family members I certainly do.  When I feel my time with this situation has come to an acceptable end I professionally excuse myself.  Sometimes I will sit in my car before leaving the parking lot and go over the visitation to make sure in my mind I have done my best.  Remember, some ER and/or ICU visitations can be very stressful and you may not have much time.  Just do the best you can.  And, by all means don't forget the first golden rule of chaplains…be prepared to LISTEN.
Go In Peace

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lesson 18 ~ Chaplaincy Studies

Lesson 18 – Personal Spiritual Care ~ Beware of Burn-Out!

By:  Rev. Trent Murman, OSM, OSF


Look at your ministry. What are the stressor points? What is your week like? At this time I have very limited stressors.  My main goal is to complete seminary classes and achieve a Chaplaincy appointment with my intended goal to work with the Armed Forces Veterans.  Due to my background I feel this is how I could best serve my fellow man.  I have allotted much of my work week toward the seminary classes due to the fact this is a second vocation/journey in my life.  Getting away on a vacation at least twice a year and some time off, I try to do this at least once a month for a 3 day consecutive period, this has been a great reliever of stress.  Be sure to set up a covering clergyman/woman in advance to help you with these times of "Personal Spiritual Care".  Develop your spiritual care plan. Write a brief description of it.   My spiritual care plan follows closely a book written by Perry H. Biddle, Jr. "A Hospital Visitation Manual".  This manual covers all aspects of ministering to many diseases which the ministers may be confronted with both in and out of the hospital settings.  When I go into an acute care setting I do try to limit the visitation directly to the patient to five to ten minutes.  I do what I have to do including speaking with the patient [if possible].  Remembering you can always visit with the family in the acute care setting waiting room, this will help not disrupting the vital nursing care functions that need to be performed.  The "Hospital Chapel" is always available for your own use or the family may be reminded of the chapel if there is a need for solitude or private worshiping.  The chapel usually has pre-announced times of denominational services where Rabi's, Priests, Muslims and other Christian clergy may conduct their own services.  Always check in at the nurse's station before proceeding to a patient's room, it is only proper to do this no matter what part of the hospital you are visiting.   I do home visitations only if the patient is confined to his/her home and when directly asked by the patient or his/her family member to stop by.  It is only common courtesy to confirm your visitation the day before in case situations have changed.  Remember if you are to administer "Anointing" or "Absolution" this should be a private rite of passage between you, the patient and their God.  Hospital staff and even other family members should be excused from the patient's room to ensure their privacy.  The patient and his/her family places an enormous amount of faith/trust in the clergy.  This must be honored and kept in strict privacy so there is no break in that trust can never be questioned.  Spiritual care should be administered to all persons that request it, for the chaplain administers to all persons of all faiths.  And going back to what we discussed in lesson #1….Listen to your people….Chaplains are and need to be great listeners.