Chaplaincy Vacancies in the Southern Trust

Chaplaincy posts for Lurgan Hospital and Craigavon Hospital are now being advertised  with a closing date of 6th January 2022.

If anyone is interested/or knows anyone interested in applying they can access the job details and apply from the links below:


Registrations open for the 17th Consultation of the ENHCC

– Crete May 11-15, 2022

NIHCA has renewed it’s membership of ENHCC (European Network of Health Care Chaplaincy) and CHCC (College of Health Care Chaplains).

Please find below information regarding the invitation, preliminary program, registration form,
call for contributions and submission form for the contributions of the 17th Consultation of the ENHCC on Crete May 11-15, 2022.

You can view the rest of the information via the following links:

ENHCC 2022 D Invitation Letter

ENHCC 2022 D Call for Contributions

ENHCC 2022 D Submission Form Contributions

ENHCC 2022 D Registration Form

ENHCC 2022 D Preliminary Programme


Updates to Our Website

We’re in the process of updating our website so please bear with us as things change around a bit!
You’ll now find all of our training information on one page: and we’ve also added a new page showing the summary minutes from our Executive meetings:
If you have any suggestions for how our website could be better, please contact us via this page:

NIHCA Research Group Journal Club – November 2021

The next meeting of the NIHCA Research Group’s Journal Club is 18th November at 10:30am. Caroline McAfee, former lead chaplain in the Northern Ireland Hospice, is kindly going to present another fascinating paper.
The feedback from the Journal Club has been very positive – it is proving to be a useful space to explore research, hone old skills and learn new ones as well as connect with each other.
There are a couple of options; drop us an email at and ask for either the paper to be forwarded or the paper and the Zoom details to be forwarded.

This event will happen via Zoom. You can register for attendance here.

Shortlisting for Chaplaincy Vacancies in the Southern Trust 
The Southern Health and Social Care Trust is now recruiting to create a waiting list for Hospital Chaplains (Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and Church of Ireland) to fill permanent, part-time vacancies that may arise over the next 12 months. At the time of advertisement the following vacancies are available :
  • Methodist 1.875 hours per week Daisy Hill Hospital
  • Catholic 19.25 hours per week, Lurgan and Portadown

The closing date is Tuesday 08 June 2021 at 4:00 PM.

Further details and how to apply can be found here:

Introduction to Healthcare Pastoral Visitation Course

9 Week, Training Course, 2 hour sessions, Edgehill House, Belfast

Week 1 Thursday 20th January: Introductions/Learning Objectives/Group Contract. Why care?
(Rev Derek Johnston) Reasons for hospital visitation.
Week 2 Thursday 27th January: Communication; Opening & closing; Empathy and Silence
(Mrs Grace McGurk)
Week 3 Thursday 3rd February: Models of Pastoral Care; Awareness & Assumptions/Do’s & don’ts
(Rev Derek Johnston)
Week 4 Thursday 10th February: Thinking reflectively; Pastoral Role Play
(Mrs Grace McGurk & Rev Derek Johnston)
Week 5: Thursday 24th February: Death and Dying; Palliative care
(Fr Robert Sloan)
Week 6 Thursday 3rd March: Loss histogram; Grief and Loss
(Mrs Grace McGurk)
Week 7 Thursday 10th March: Theology and practice; Rituals/Liturgies/Sacraments; Ethical dilemmas
(Fr Robert Sloan)
Week 8 Thursday 24th March: Spiritual Healthcare: Spiritual Pain; Where is God when it hurts?
(Rev Derek Johnston)
Week 9 Thursday 31st March: Personal and Pastoral Reflections; Evaluation
(Rev Derek Johnston)
Please note: The course will not run on Thursday 17th February and 17th March due to half-term holidays and
St. Patrick’s Day.

Flourish Training

From Flourish:

“I would like to draw your attention to our new Flourish! newsletter which gives you lots of information about resources available and the link to register for our upcoming Self-Care training which takes place on Wednesday, 26th May. The training will be delivered via zoom for clergy/ministers of religion, and we would be most appreciative if you could share with friends and colleagues. If you would like to register onto the course, please visit or email

You can download the “Flourish” newsletter here:

Flourish Newsletter

On the Bookshelf –

‘In the Midst of Life: Insights from a Hospital Chaplain’

by Paul Evans

A Tenby born Reverend, who now works in the health sector, has published a book called ‘In the Midst of Life: Insights from a Hospital Chaplain’.

Rev’d Michael Marsden (pictured) who was born and brought up in Tenby and attended Greenhill School, was ordained in Llandaff Cathedral in 1982 and has worked in a number of church and health care settings throughout South Wales.

He presently works within the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, and is involved in nurse training and lectures regularly at the University of South Wales.

Married to Salli with two adult daughters, Lydia and Lucy, and a Parson Jack Russell called Toby, Rev’d Marsden’s book covers over 30 years’ experience working in health care as a chaplain, ministering to a countless number of patients, their families and health care staff.

In addition to these moving stories, each short, self-contained chapter contains a passage of scripture and prayer to assist the reader to reflect and ponder.

The Foreword has been written by Archbishop Rowan Williams, (formerly Archbishop of Canterbury): “I can’t think of another book that so beautifully sums up the vocation of a hospital chaplain, with a wealth of personal recollection and a wealth of invaluable quotation and reflection…. Michael writes with wit and clarity and compassion not simply about sickness and health but about the amazing grace of being human, and the joy of witnessing to this,” wrote Dr Rowan Williams.

Rev’d Lance Sharpe, Registrar, College of Health Care Chaplains, also said:

“When reviewing this book, I imagined it to be just another book on healthcare chaplaincy. However, I was pleasantry surprised as I was instantly struck by the personable tone that Michael writes in and the wisdom contained in the text is clearly borne of many years’ experience of frontline chaplaincy.

“The reflections and stories Michael uses in the book resonated deeply with my own experiences as a chaplain and certainly reminded me of the highs and lows that travelling alongside patients and reiterates the absolute privilege it is to share in their journey.

“I also appreciated the devotional and prayerful style that Michael employs in the book too. Using scripture, poems and prayers I can see this book being a useful resource for those involved in chaplaincy and pastoral ministry and as a valuable insight into the chaplain’s ministry for those exploring a vocation in this field…I am confident it will connect with all those involved in this work whatever their position or experience.

“I would wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone interested in healthcare ministry.

‘In the Midst of Life: Insights from a Hospital Chaplain’ is now available to purchase on Amazon for £7.99.

(Source:, accessed 11 May 2021)

From Dr. Daniel Nuzum at Cork University Hospital:

New CPD Opportunity for Healthcare Chaplains

As a commitment towards the CPD for healthcare chaplains we are planning to start a monthly online CPD session by Zoom from the CPE Centre at Cork University Hospital. 

It will initially take a ‘Journal Club’ style used by other healthcare disciplines, where a journal article of interest to chaplaincy will be presented and a discussion will take place about any insights/ learnings for your existing ministry or practice. We will also be offering some stand alone CPD sessions covering the various domains required for chaplains. We invite you to suggest particular areas of interest. The plan is for different people to host/ present these sessions so that they can be truly ‘chaplain led and shaped’.

Recognising that we all learn differently, there will be no pressure to contribute. All are welcome.

It will also provide a time of connection during the challenges of social restriction.

All involved in healthcare ministry are welcome to join and you can express your interest by clicking this link 

Each session will last 1 hour maximum.

For further information please use the link above or contact Daniel Nuzum directly at

From CNN, by Robert Klitzman

The ‘Amazing Grace’ of chaplains in the pandemic

“No one should ever have to die alone — to take their last breaths and say goodbye to the world by themselves with no one beside them,” a hospital chaplain recently told me. “With Covid, seeing patients dying alone has become the hardest part of my job. At the beginning of the pandemic, I saw even children dying alone.”

In the initial surge of cases last year, hospitals commonly banned all visitors. Family members of Covid-19 patients could themselves be infected and spread the virus to others when visiting their loved ones. Last summer, some hospitals, like Northwestern’s, started to let families visit to say goodbye if these loved ones agreed that doctors could write Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders, which mean forgoing so-called heroic measures. Yet this approach raises disturbing questions of whether families may feel coerced to agree to these terms in order to see their loved ones.

In trying times like these, chaplains, who provide spiritual care and support to patients, families, doctors and nurses, have bravely and tirelessly stepped up. Struggling on the front lines, helping to fill the gaping void that health care workers couldn’t, chaplains spoke to families, wrote these relatives’ messages to their loved ones on pieces of paper and handed these to nurses to read aloud in the patients’ rooms. Once chaplains were able to obtain appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), they entered patients’ rooms with disinfected iPads and iPhones to let more people communicate with those in the hospital.


Chaplains still sit with innumerable dying patients to aid them and be there for families in decisive and painful moments. These spiritual care providers help patients and families alike to find meaning, purpose and hope when confronting death, and frequently mediate conflicts between patients and the medical staff.

Contemplating religious questions when confronting mortality is hardly new. In past epidemics, such as the Middle Ages’ devastating Black Death, massive numbers of people facing widespread disease, fear and death commonly turned to faith. But over the past few decades, America’s religious landscape has been dramatically shifting.


Across Christianity, Judaism and Islam, attendance at religious institutions has been steadily declining over the last two decades. Once, religions uniquely offered explanations for how species, the earth and the universe were created. But increasingly, science has provided reasons, with clear evidence. In addition, people now more readily question authorities, whether political or religious, and the Internet, social media and globalization, have exposed people to wide ranges of beliefs that differ from the traditional faiths with which they may have been raised. Moreover, whereas houses of worship once allowed people to interact and connect outside of work at set times, social media now serves similar functions any time or day.


Covid-19 has also transformed religious and spiritual practices. Many people cope with stress by spending time with family and friends, and going to gyms, churches, temples, restaurants, bars, theatres and stores. But the pandemic has stymied these activities and connections to others. Many of us have been forced to reconsider what is truly important in our lives, to question the meanings of our daily routines, work, relationships and goals. We have often relinquished activities and interactions that now, on reflection, don’t feel as meaningful. Religious services have also moved online and been reduced to two-dimensional electronic screens, lacking vital human touch.


Hospitalized patients and their families face these challenges even more acutely, and healthcare providers have had to devise new, creative responses and interactions. Especially in the pandemic’s early days, doctors and nurses were stretched thin and frequently had little PPE. They tried as much as they could to address patients’ spiritual and existential needs, occasionally filling some of the roles of hospital chaplains, arranging Zoom calls with shocked, grief-stricken family members. But doctors and nurses could not do it all, and many have felt burnt out themselves, making chaplaincy services critical.


Health care, however, is a big business and many hospitals still underappreciate, understaff and underfund chaplaincy departments, which insurers do not reimburse , and which therefore do not directly generate revenue. In 2015, 70% of over 4,000 US hospitals surveyed by the American Hospital Association offered chaplaincy and pastoral care services, up from 53% in 2002. But more are needed.

Many doctors also remain wary of addressing spiritual, religious and existential issues in medical care. Even with patients who have advanced cancer, 47% of physicians feel personally uncomfortable discussing spiritual issues with patients, and 45% think it is not their professional role to do so. Sixty-two percent of doctors say they have not received adequate training in this area. Yet among US medical school deans, only 7% said that their schools offered required coursework dedicated to spirituality and health, and only 21% thought that it would be important to develop national standards for competencies in training on issues regarding spirituality and health. Even if they received funding and assistance, only 25% would make additional time available in the curriculum for these issues.


Research shows, however, that patients who see a chaplain during their hospitalization, whether they initially wanted to or not, rate their overall satisfaction with their hospitalization higher. And some research suggests the presence of such services is associated with fewer hospital deaths. Alas, many hospitals and physicians feel that these studies are not enough.


Much of what chaplains do, however, lies beyond financial metrics. Covid-19 has in fact shown how chaplains can play increasingly vital roles, and how patients’ needs for meaning and hope extend beyond profit alone.
Recently, for instance, a chaplain told me of a dying 12-year-old who wanted to be an organ donor. After he was declared brain dead, the doctors would need to wheel him into the operating room, and then disconnect his life support to quickly “harvest” his organs while these tissues were still viable. The family wanted to be present when he took his last breath. But the doctors feared that the family would become upset, and thus delay the ability to remove the organs in a timely way. The family and the doctors argued and couldn’t resolve the tension.

The chaplain spoke at length to the family, who agreed to be in the OR for only three minutes. Once in the room, all garbed in sterile gowns, she asked them whether their son had a favorite song. The mother said, Amazing Grace. The family then sang it, with the doctors and nurses joining in. Everyone cried, including the staff.


After that the family left. A few days later, the chaplain phoned the mother to see how she was doing. “Thank you for that gift,” she said. “We will never forget that. We got to sing my son into Heaven.”

Hopefully, none of us will ever forget the pandemic’s lessons regarding the importance of chaplains and of patients’ and families broader spiritual, religious and existential needs beyond the biomedical alone.

(Source:; accessed April 27, 2021)

Additional funding to support hospital chaplains

Health Minister Robin Swann has announced an additional £25,000 funding to support the work of the Northern Ireland Healthcare Chaplains Association (NIHCA).

Chaplains are employed directly by HSC Trusts to provide spiritual care to all patients, visitors, staff and volunteers across healthcare, regardless of faith or no-faith.

Commenting on the funding the Health Minister said:

“I am delighted to be able to offer this additional funding to the Northern Ireland Healthcare Chaplains Association. I want to pay tribute to the work of our hospital chaplains.  They have provided spiritual and religious care, support and comfort to patients, their families and healthcare staff, during some of the bleakest moments in this pandemic. Often chaplains have been the only non-clinical faces seen by patients, delivering much needed support with dignity and compassion.

“This extra funding will provide much needed additional professional training for chaplains and the development of a local bank of practical resources for use by patients.”

He also thanked the NICHA for its ongoing and active role in equipping chaplains to undertake their important role.

Rev. Norman Harrison, Director of Training for the Northern Ireland Healthcare Chaplains Association, stated that:

“The NIHCA very much welcomes and appreciates the acknowledgement which this funding represents of the work of Chaplains throughout the pandemic across all the HSC Trusts. We would like to thank the Minister as well as the Department of Health for giving both time and consideration to Chaplaincy, and for the encouragement this tangible acknowledgment brings, as we pursue our goal of preparing Chaplains for their professional role within the HSCNI.”

The Department of Health currently provides annual funding of £33,000 to the NIHCA to support the training and development of chaplains.

Summary of Minutes from Latest Executive Council Meeting – 18/01/21

It is hoped that these notes provide a robust , transparent and accurate summary of the latest meeting of the Executive Council. For further information, please contact any member of the Executive.

After the Opening Prayer, Welcome & Apologies, the minutes from the previous meeting (23/11/20) were proposed and seconded. Correspondence received included membership forms and these were agreed to go forward.

Anticipated changes in the composition of the Executive Council were discussed and it was agreed to follow up these anticipated changes with the relevant faith traditions / members. Rev. Norman Harrison stated that he was willing to remain as Training Director for another term (as permitted by the Constitution) if no one else applies for the role.

It was agreed that the Consultation Document would be sent out to the membership of the NIHCA as well as other key stakeholders, e.g. chaplaincy line managers. It is hoped that this consultation will help shape the future of Chaplaincy and be beneficial for the business case development for the Dept. of Health, as will the results of the recent chaplaincy survey.

As the issue of honoria was brought up at the last AGM, it was agreed that a history of the honoria and any proposals for the future be brought to the next AGM.

As director of training, Rev. Norman updated the Council re the recent meeting with representatives from the Dept. of Health. One of the fruits of the meeting was the granting of a one-off amount of £25,000 to the NIHCA (see “News” post above).

The Executive was also updated regarding CPE, including confirmation that any NIHCA members who wished to participate in CPE with Sr. Mary Jo Corcoran need only pay the €750 ACPEI fee.

Regarding the Training Schedule, it was noted that two virtual training sessions had been provided so far this year and that two more were currently scheduled. It was agreed that these two upcoming sessions would be communicated to the membership as soon as possible.

Fr. Damien has been working on a document that aligns chaplaincy response in time of pandemic with the surge levels as used by the Dept. of Health and he agreed to send that to the Executive members for feedback.

It was agreed that the next meeting of the Executive Council would take place on March 15th at 2pm via Zoom.

Any correspondence for the Executive can be sent to

Fr. Damien Quigley, April 22nd 2021