PT 437: Healthcare Chaplaincy: Ministry of Presence and Visitation

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Module Level

7/8/9: Dip/H.Dip/MTh

Time Allowance

Yearlong, 1hr PW, 20Hrs



Module Aims

This year long module intends to facilitate students in exploring healthcare chaplaincy in theological, pastoral and institutional contexts. It will unpack fundamental theological assumptions and outline, in an introductory manner, the processes of loss and acceptance, and articulation of hope through the resources of the Christian tradition. It will address key ethical and professional issues facilitating the student to apply key pastoral and professional principles and practices to a healthcare setting, and critically evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to pastoral care. It aims to familiarise students with important concepts and codes of behaviour, systems and skills as they relate to healthcare in Ireland.

Indicative Syllabus:

This course will explore

  • Articulating meaning: Models of Spiritual Ministry and Pastoral Care to the Sick
  • Understandings the Mystery of Suffering and Solidarity as a Community, made present in ministry/chaplaincy
  • Theological Anthropology: Implications of the Patient as a Person, Free, Embodied, Relational and Transcendent
  • Central Values and Professional Principles: human dignity, human goods and common good, beneficence, autonomy, justice and advocacy
  • Case studies including decision making; confidentiality; at the beginning and end of life
  • On the Experience of loss, death and bereavement
  • Celebrating the Healing Process; on accompaniment, prayer and ritual.
  • The Identity of Professional Health Care Chaplaincy; organisational ethos; professional practice and parameters; working in teams
  • Justice and Social Responsibility; Ethics Committees; advocacy
  • On the Irish healthcare system; funding models; issues of allocation and access
  • Further Case studies including non-autonomous patients; mental health, Paediatrics and Family care; and Conscientious Objection
  • Intercultural, gender and generational considerations

Learning Outcomes

  • By the end of this module students should be able to:
  • 1. Explore the professional identity Healthcare Chaplaincy, including professional parameters, team practice, and inclusivity
  • 2. Recount models of ministry as it relates to the sick, including understandings of the mystery of suffering and solidarity
  • 3. Outline a foundational theological anthropology as it relates to the experience of illness and care
  • 4. Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of fundamental principles in healthcare ethics, including issues of autonomy and duty of care, social justice and human dignity
  • 5. Discuss and relate above concepts and professional principles to healthcare practice and case-studies
  • 6. Relate to the experience of illness and loss and the main psychological stages towards acceptance
  • 7. Draw on resources of a tradition to ritualise and articulate hope and acceptance
  • 8. Consider the healthcare system in the light of justice and advocacy
  • 9. Demonstrate an awareness of differences in cultural contexts, gender and generations


  • • ‘Healthcare Chaplaincy’ P. O’Donovon. The Furrow, Vol. 59, No. 5 (May, 2008), 264-273.
  • • David Aldridge. Spirituality, Healing and Medicine. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2000.
  • • Pia Matthews. Ethical Questions in Healthcare Chaplaincy. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2018.
  • • Journals available on Maynooth Library Online: Journal of Pastoral Care and Counselling; Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy; Chaplaincy Today
  • • R. Gula. Just Ministry. New York: Paulist Press, 2010.
  • • I. Pye, P. Sedgwick and A. Todd (eds). Critical Care: Delivering Spiritual Care in Healthcare Contexts. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2015.
  • • Online resources: