Above: Our SA-NT District Chaplains (back left to front right) Faith Hamer, Rev Robert Thiele, Clive Wundersitz, Rosalie Polkinghorne, Rev Peter Miller, Lois Shepherd, Rev Jack Shepherd, Rev Howard Schilling.
Bringing the ministry of fellowship to places such as hospitals, prisons and nursing homes, chaplains are there to lend a helping hand through a listening ear.
Rosalie Polkinghorne, one of the SA-NT District’s volunteer chaplains, goes into the Royal Adelaide Hospital one day a week for three hours.
In the morning, she calls the hospital staff to let them know she is on her way and receives a list of names upon arrival. She works within an Orthopaedic and Trauma ward, where most patients have suffered from a fall or car accident and many are not Christians.
Provided that the door is open – both literally and figuratively – she will pop in for a visit.
“Sometimes people will say, ‘no, I don’t want a visit,’ and I say, ‘but I’m not here to preach to you … I’m just here to see how you’re going or have a chat.’”
Rosalie will check in with every name on her list, only skipping those who are having an appointment, with visitors or sleeping.
“It’s interesting, the first lady I went to go and visit today, her room was quite dark,” she recalls, explaining how she was unsure whether to go in or not.
“I actually looked in, and I went in and said hello, and she said, ‘oh, it’s good to see someone, I’ve been talking to God.”
“She said ‘oh, I’m so pleased you came.”
Although conversations can be challenging, particularly in the bleak setting of a hospital, the ability to love, listen to and care about people is at the very heart of chaplaincy.
Before she was a chaplain, Rosalie completed short courses in areas such as bereavement and loss, mental health and palliative care. While these are not prerequisites to enter into chaplaincy, she believes these studies have been a wealthy resource to draw upon in her role.
“I did all those courses … to help me through life or to help me understand other people in life, but it helped me and it grew me so that I can do what I do today,” she says.
PLEASE NOTE that the Privacy Act does not allow hospitals to divulge patients’ denominational affiliation to our chaplains, even though patients may have indicated that they are Lutherans at the time of admission.
As a result, there are two ways in which a patient can be guaranteed a visit from one of our District chaplains:
- Once a patient is admitted to a ward, the patient can ask a member of the nursing staff and request a visit from a Lutheran chaplain.
- If you, a family member, a friend or a member of your congregation is being or has been admitted to any Public or Private Hospital, please contact Pastor Peter Miller (24/7) on 0409 725 573 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He, and our other volunteer chaplains, count it as a privilege to be invited to visit patients regularly for the duration of their stay.
READ MORE STORIES ABOUT Chaplaincy