Covenant Health
This week's reflection

This week's reflection

Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.

John Updike


Spirituality is a vital part of who we are and everything we do at Covenant Health and is expressed in the rich spiritual legacy of faith and compassion we carry from our founding congregations of Sisters. We are committed to providing holistic care to our patients, residents and families, and we consider their spirituality an integral part of their health. Spirituality is also an area we endeavor to understand better as we participate in spirituality and health research, and pursue ways to integrate this knowledge into practice. 

Spiritual care services

Spiritual care at Covenant Health promotes the spiritual and emotional health of patients, residents, families and staff.  Our skilled team of professional Chaplains provide spiritual care to our patients, residents and families, and are supported by many faith community volunteers.

How can I request spiritual care services?

To request a visit from Spiritual Care during your stay, please ask any member of your healthcare team.

What are Chaplains?

Chaplains are healthcare professionals who have Masters-level education in theological/religious studies, have completed integrative clinical training (Clinical Pastoral Education) and who hold membership with the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care (CASC).

Chaplains are practioners who help people draw upon their own spiritual, religious and cultural resources for direction, strength, wisdom and healing as they journey through life’s stages.  Chaplains are integrated members of the health care team and provide spiritual leadership across Covenant Health sites.

How can Chaplains help me and my loved ones?

Our chaplains can:

  • Provide end-of-life support, ceremony, or decision-making
  • Guide you during crisis situations
  • Help you explore meaning and purpose in life
  • Support people experiencing grief and loss
  • Support families and friends who are impacted by a loved one’s illness or death
  • Help you explore ethical concerns facing patients, residents, and staff
  • Facilitate Community Spiritual Care Volunteers

What kinds of services can Chaplains offer?

Our Chaplains offer:

  • On-site religious worship services and special events
  • Religious care (prayer, requests for communion/sacraments, or facilitating visits from diverse faith leaders)
  • A supportive relational presence during times of stress and vulnerability
  • Resources for memorial/funeral service planning
  • Respect for all religious traditions and faiths and a link to community faith groups and leaders
  • Quarterly memorial services

Spirituality & health research

Spirituality is often a broad concept, referring to the human search for a sense of meaning, purpose and morality in the context of relationships with self, others, the universe and ultimate reality. Joint Commission on Accrediting of Health Organizations, 2005

Religion usually refers to an organized system of spiritual beliefs, behaviors, rituals and ethical principles shared by a community and conveyed over time. Canda & Furman, 1999

Spirituality is recognized as a factor that contributes to health in many persons. The concept of spirituality is found in all cultures and societies. It is expressed in an individual’s search for ultimate meaning through participation in religion and/or belief in God, family, naturalism, rationalism, humanism, and the arts. All of these factors can influence how patients and healthcare professionals perceive health and illness and how they interact with one another.  Association of American Medical Colleges , Medical School Objectives Project.

Throughout the last 20 years, there has been a surge of interest in t spirituality and health with an understanding that holistic health care involves the body, mind and spirit. Areas of inquiry have included:

  • The effect of spiritual and religious practices on health outcomes
  • spiritual needs of those receiving healthcare
  • the efficacy of spiritual interventions as part of health promotion and clinical treatment
  • spirituality of healthcare providers.

Covenant Health, in collaboration with St. Joseph’s College at the University of Alberta, seeks to further these conversations through dedicated research and education in the intersecting fields of faith, spirituality, health and healing. This occurs through sponsoring the Faith, Spirituality and Health Research Grants and hosting research and education events on Spirituality and Health.

Faith Spirituality and Health Research Grant Awards 2014 (pdf)
Faith Spirituality and Health Research Grant Awards 2013 (pdf)


Clinical pastoral education

Hospital chaplaincy and course-based spiritual care education programs

The Alberta Consortium for Supervised Pastoral Education offers both hospital chaplaincy and course-based spiritual care education programs. Placements for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) are within healthcare and community settings of the Calgary and Edmonton areas. All Alberta CPE programs are offered according to the certification standards of the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care/Association canadienne de soins spirituels (CASC/ACSS).

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an experience-based approach to learning practical skills and competencies for ministry. It combines qualified supervision and group reflection with clinical learning about spiritual and pastoral care. CPE programs are open to ordained and lay persons studying in theological education. As well, students in other disciplines who seek to learn in the field of spiritual assessment and care, and are keen to walk in the shoes of spiritual care practitioners, are welcome to apply. CPE aims to assist learners in achieving their full personal, vocational and professional potential.

Programs of CPE are offered at educational centres throughout Canada, each is administered in keeping with educational and clinical opportunities. Students learn about spiritual and pastoral care in general, pediatric, psychiatric, and long-term care health facilities, correctional centres and a variety of community based locations. Each educational program is connected to a theological college. Teaching Supervisors are certified by CASC/ACSS.

In Alberta CPE is in a process of redevelopment. CPE programs are being offered in partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS), Covenant Health, St. Stephen’s College and Ambrose University. There are steps being taken to establish and solidify an Alberta Consortium of stakeholders interested in “educating to create competent, compassionate spiritual care and pastoral counselling providers to meet the needs of Albertans” (Vision statement of the Alberta Consortium for Supervised Pastoral Education).

Please see AHS Spiritual Care services for up-coming program offerings and application information :