Monica Fink is thankful that the Grey Nuns Community Hospital has a chapel. It’s a place where she can find peace—away from the hectic unit where she has spent the last eight months.
Monica, 62, has multiple sclerosis, which has been robbing her of movement, and is confined to a bed. She waits for nursing staff to transfer her from her hospital bed to her electric chair so she can make the daily trek to the chapel.
Celebrating the rich tapestry of patients, residents, families and staff, Covenant Health's chapels welcome all denominations, providing a quiet place for contemplation and reflection for all faith traditions.
“The only prescription I have is my faith. I’m in a dark hole with MS where there is a steady decline. I go down to the chapel and I sit for awhile and absorb the silence,” says Monica.
While she waits for a permanent placement in long-term care, Monica plans to continue enjoying the solitude of the chapel.
“At 2:30, there is rarely anyone else in there, so it’s just me, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I just absorb everything. The holiness of it. The peace. The quiet. The calm. My head is still,” she says.
Marieta Paul, Chaplain at Youville Home, notices how the chapel transforms residents.
“Many residents who come to choir on Thursdays are not able to sing. They are not able to speak. But their family and the staff love them to be there because they still respond to music and the environment. They seem to settle. They seem to relax. It becomes serene when they are in the chapel,” says Marieta.
About 200 residents a week use the chapel at Youville Home, situated at the centre of the facility. She’s noticed how residents, staff and family members drop in to spend time in the chapel.
“I’ve heard some of our elderly say, 'There are so many things I can’t do anymore but I still can pray.' They really do value the power of prayer for themselves and for those they are praying for,” says Marieta.
Bernice Prevost is one of these residents. She’s lived at Youville Home for two and a half years and attends a service every Wednesday at the chapel. The 99-year-old says she believes strongly in God and misses not being able to attend her church.
“It means a lot to me what the pastor, the minister or the priest says. It’s my life. It’s the way I like to live,” says Bernice.
Penny Stiksma, another Youville Home resident, enjoys the quiet, the sermon and the hymns at the chapel.
“It gives me a lot of serenity right now. It gives me peace of mind. It gives me a chance to get rid of all the garbage that surrounds us,” says Penny.
“Chapels are important in a hospital setting. They provide a place of retreat from the regular routine of the hospital life. It is here that anyone can find a place away from everyday life and discover or reflect on what they value most. It’s a place where you can know you are OK here,” says Nicholas Wasylowich, Chaplain at St. Mary’s Health Care Centre in Trochu and Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital in Castor.
“The fact that every single site within Covenant Health has insisted on and maintained a chapel that is open to everyone, regardless of their faith tradition, speaks volumes,” says Ralph Hale, Manager of Spiritual Care, Seniors and Long-Term Care. “At the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre, when the need for a space for a few faith traditions other than Christian was heard, Covenant Health designated and furnished a sacred space in the form of a multi-faith worship room. This was done so that any person of any faith tradition would feel safe and welcome to practise their faith in a space that was comfortable for them.”
For Monica, the chapel has deepened her faith.
“It gives me meditation on my faith. It gives me enlightenment on my purpose. I feel God there. When he sees me crying, he clarifies things for me,” says Monica.