​Anglican Chaplain at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Stephen Delbridge with Jane and Archie.

A year ago I took on the role of Anglican Chaplain at the Royal Children’s Hospital. What a contrast I have found between ministering to children, teens and their families at the Royal Children’s Hospital and ministering in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Each day at the Royal Children’s I sit with children and their families, children from a few weeks old up to 15 and 16 years. Sometimes the families are struggling with new diagnoses and the treatment plans that result and sometimes families are with children who have long term complicated medical conditions that may require several visits each year for hospital admissions and for outpatient appointments.”

My task is to be there as God is there. To stay, to listen, to hope and pray, to allow a space in which concerns and dilemmas, hopes and fears, can be attended to. In this space we know that God is with us, that Jesus walks this journey with us, and that the Holy Spirit brings healing and wholeness. We pray, we search, we cry, we trust, we hope.

Children just a few weeks old are so small, so vulnerable, and yet their bodies and their spirits are so insistent. Children a few years old may have weak lungs after a premature birth, or a weak heart or a genetic related condition. However, they too are so tenacious, so strong and so determined.

The parents I am with are abounding in love and living in hope, determined that they will find a way if a way is possible, a way through the next night and day, a way through the next week and month and year. It’s the parents who determine the care at the “Kids”. I see this a s a reflection of God’s fierce love.

There may be naïve strength in a child’s acceptance of their illness, and how they relate to God. This is such a contrast with adults in ICU who generally have a more defined spiritual view and where God might be in the midst of their health crisis. This is often shared by their loved ones. Equally, young people and old people will have brushes with death and will survive, many miracles large and small for those with eyes to see.

The common feature for me is that people everywhere who know and are confident in their faith in God and people who have a more tenuous faith and people who have no faith at all, seek out or are found by the Chaplain at critical times for important conversations about meaning, about purpose and about God’s presence and gift. These conversations bless me every day. I see God at work all around me in so many ways. For God’s love is at work in everyone.

Our Hospital Chaplaincy is partially funded by Melbourne Anglican Foundation and the William Angliss Charitable Fund. If you wish to support this ministry please make a donation to the Melbourne Anglican Foundation’s Chaplaincy fund.

 

 

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