New chaplains deeply moved by ministry

CHARLESTON — Graduates of the Bon Secours-St. Francis Hospital Clinical Pastoral Education program roundly agreed during their completion ceremony this summer that the ministry benefited them as much as it did the patients.

Father Wilbroad Mwape, temporary administrator of St. Joseph Church and resident chaplain at Bon Secours, and Diocese of Charleston seminarians David Whitman and Michael Peterson graduated with 13 other people of various faiths, including lay people and clerics.

Chaplains can take up to six units within the program, each concentrating on different aspects of the chaplaincy. Father Mwape completed five units. The seminarians each completed one, required for their priestly formation, and both agreed that the program had a profound impact on their lives.

Father Mwape, who hopes to take this ministry back to the church in Zambia, described his work and study as a powerful journey.

“This is a two-way calling,” he said. “We reach out to the patients, and they transform our lives.”

The priest said that chaplains may benefit even more from the interaction than the patients because the patients affirm the ministry.

“Spirituality means that human beings are not just physical bodies that require maintenance and care,” he said. “Spirituality is indeed a great means of coping, for dealing with crises in life.”