MUSC The Catalyst
MUSC arial view


MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants Catalyst PDF File MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause

MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


Pastoral care week theme: A healing presence

By Rev. Christopher Oranyeli
MUSC Chaplin

The theme of Pastoral Care Week, Oct. 24-30, is healing presence.

The week is a time to highlight the invaluable work of chaplains. Chaplains always are present to support patients and their families and staff. Their supportive presence is an act of care which helps healing. Supportive presence is therefore a healing presence.

Generally speaking, spiritual care is the work of every health care worker. Many health care workers understand the need to be a ‘general practitioner’ in spiritual care. What is required for this function is to demonstrate real presence—a sharing of oneself that can lead to growth.

More health care professionals are acknowledging that good spiritual health and good medical attention are an unbeatable combination in excellent patient care. During Pastoral Care Week, MUSC Pastoral Care gives a Caring Spirit Award in recognition of health care workers who demonstrate, above and beyond, excellence in spiritual care to patients and their families at MUSC.

Whenever we walk into a hospital room, we are there to see a person, not just a patient. Our presence helps them know they are not alone in their fears and that they are safe. Certainly this experience can be enhanced by what we say and how we say it, but basically it is our presence that gives comfort. This reaching out to sick people can be a joyful experience, but also can be hard work. Despite the difficulties we may encounter in reaching out to those who are sick, we are obliged to help them remember that they are not alone in their pain and suffering. We are all called to use and bestow our gift of presence and exercise our greatest skill—listening.

The essence of healing presence is a non-anxious, non-judgmental, responsive and empathic listening. Being able to talk to a responsive listener helps patients to see their own problems and find solutions. Listening responsively represents an effort at entering the other person’s inner world. We must learn to listen responsively, offering encouragement when it is necessary and reacting with our feelings as much as with our words. We respond to people from where they are and not from where we are.

To be effective, we must continually strive to honestly assess our thoughts and attitudes to determine whether we really see others as human beings. We are all called to exercise a therapeutic role, one which calls for deep commitment to and deep involvement in common human concerns. The core of this involvement is the healing presence—a true availability to others which proceeds from our wholeness which, as it is shared, becomes the vehicle through which effective healing flows. We have been touched; we should also touch others, too.

Friday, Oct. 22, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.