‘Standing in the Gap’: A Theological Reflection on The Meaning, Value and Significance of Faith in The Life and Ministry of Healthcare Chaplains
Naughton, Margaret T.
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To date, there has been a dearth of research in the area of Healthcare Chaplaincy, particularly in the Irish context. The literature recognises this and indeed, calls for a rebalance, especially by chaplains themselves. Framed around the trigger question, ‘Do chaplains need to be people of faith?’ this thesis seeks to redress the gap in research and begin a process of reflection and growth in this area. This study is supported and framed by the action-reflection-action methodology which is at the heart of the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) model of teaching and learning. At the centre of CPE, is what Anton Boisen has called, ‘living human documents’, or in other words, the human person. At the heart of this thesis, is the narrative of twenty-six chaplains. It is their narrative, their experience and their story which help to provide significant insight into the ministry of the contemporary chaplain. This study is further supported by theological reflection, an integral part of the CPE process. Using the Whiteheads’ model of theological reflection, which encompasses experience, culture and tradition, it has been possible to undertake a process of theological reflection on the meaning, value and significance of faith in the life and ministry of Healthcare Chaplains. Having explored each of these dialogue partners, the thesis then moves to an exploration of the fruits of the dialogue. This is done by using a bespoke method of theological reflection – a new and fresh approach to the discipline. In other words, in crafting a new method of theological reflection, this thesis, is able to attend to the experience of the chaplains, explore what the experience has to say, before then moving to name new insights and areas for transformation and growth.