I’m Fr. Damien Quigley and I’m currently (2019) lead Catholic chaplain in Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry. I was ordained to the priesthood in June 2016 and my first appointment is to the Parish of Middle Killeavy and to Daisy Hill Hospital.
If you had said to me even 5 years ago that I’d be a hospital chaplain, I’d probably have said, ‘No way!’. But a wonderful experience in CPE and then journeying with a close family member as she died from cancer opened my eyes – and my heart – to the great blessing that hospital chaplaincy can be. When my archbishop asked me to take up hospital chaplaincy, my ‘No’ had most definitely been transformed to a ‘Yes’!
For me, one of the beautiful gifts of chaplaincy is that as chaplains we arrive at a patient’s bed with no agenda. Every other professional arrives at that bed with something to do – blood to take, tests to organise, results to share, etc. – but as a chaplain I arrive with just a Hello and an invitation to encounter each other. The agenda in that encounter is very much with the patient. As chaplains, we also strive to be very much part of the hospital team as a caring, prayerful, supportive presence.
My background is in science and I have an interest in bioethical issues and the meeting place between bioethics and Catholic moral teaching. I’ve been a member of the NIHCA since I began as a hospital chaplain and commend its commitment to helping raise the profile of the great vocation that hospital chaplaincy is.
As chaplains, as a community, we take the invitation of the Lord Jesus as our very own, “I was sick and you took care of me” (Matthew 25:36, NRSV). Please pray for us and for those we encounter.