|"What I Learned from Metropolitan Japanese Ministry Seminar"
by the Rev. Alban Yoshikatsu Abe
June 4, 2005
[The Nippon Sei Ko Kai - Japan] I participated in the Seminar sponsored by MJM New York from Oct. 11 to 28, 2004. It was a great opportunity for me to be given many valuable experiences.
MJM means [Metropolitan Japanese Ministry] - the congregation organized under the cooperation of Nippon Sei Ko Kai and Episcopal Church in USA, works as a link in the chain for the Japanese ministry in USA. MJM has been very active working together and offering a variety of program to Japanese and American people.
I participated in the 2004 Seminar for the purpose and reason as follows:
1. I wished to observe and learn the reality of religious activities in New York.
2. I wished to know the role the Church takes in the American society. I wanted to study in a hospital, especially about pastoral care practice in the hospital.
3. I also hoped to have the opportunity to exchange with the congregation living in New York.
To New York
On Oct. 11th (Mon) I arrived in JFK Airport at 5:15 p.m., and Ms. Kyoko Kageyama welcomed me. We had been keeping in touch through e-mail. She kindly took care of me during my stay for the Seminar. I'd like to write the summary of the contents of the Seminar in New York (this is a part of the Seminar planned by MJM):
1. I participated in a reading circle held at Princeton and Westchester. After we had a Bible study, I joined a potluck party and exchanged information. It was informative and encouraging for me.
2. I attended the Service (Holy Communion), which is held twice a month. I was responsible for the sermon. About ten people are in congregation. After the service I enjoyed a meal and conversation with them.
3. I participated in the Service of MFM, which is for Filipinos and is the same as MJM. After the Service I enjoyed a meal with very friendly people.
The Seminar I hoped to attend
Since I had learned that the United States is one of the most advanced countries concerning Pastoral Care at hospitals and other places, Iﾕve waited for this opportunity to learn and experience Pastoral Care at the hospital during the Seminar. Fortunately I was given a chance at St. Luke's Hospital.
In St. Luke's Hospital, an Episcopal female chaplain was working. The patient was cared for by a team unit consisting of a doctor, a nurse and a physical therapist. These medical team and the chaplain were working together.
I learned the role of the chaplain was to care about the patient's spirit. I had imagined that the presence of the chaplain was more independent, but the chaplain was a part of the unit team, which was a well organized system at St. Luke's Hospital. It was different from that I had imagined.
To become a chaplain, one should be trained sufficiently with a deep consideration for the patient's personality. Only those people, who reached the very high level both in training and consideration, are able to take the test and become qualified. That was an explanation I learned from the chaplain. She also explained about the work of the chaplain at St. Luke's Hospital as follows:
1. Being together with the patient (Being on the scene)
2. Showing own presence (Call me anytime, using Beeper)
3. Attending Unit Team meeting - the team works together in a body. All of the team members work for the lives of the patients.
I was amazed that the Care Program was planned so thoroughly and minutely. Based on the assumption that every case is different, all are well organized with the manual and training as well. The chaplains are not only Christian but also Muslim and other religion as well, all are working together. All of this I learned from her.
While I was visiting the hospital ward with the chaplain, her beeper rang. It was a call from a patient's family who had decided to turn off the life-support system for the patient. The patient had lost consciousness following heart surgery and was left in a vegetable-like state while using a life-support system. It has been for several months and recovery was hopeless.
The chaplain had to go to her room. I was not allowed to follow her, but the chaplain explained that she listened to the family's request and prayed together hand-in-hand for the patient. (In addition, the chaplain's agreement to move the life-support system from the patient was required.)
It was only two hours visiting to the hospital, but I learned about so many precious works concerning life. I was deeply impressed but how well-trained each person on the team was and how they focused on the patient in every case.
The Rev. Alban Yoshikatsu Abe is from Hokkaido Diocese of NSKK