By Hugo Gonzalez, MDiv, BCC
Our NACC National Conference draws close. If you haven’t already registered for the event, there is still time. This year we will gather in Pittsburgh, PA, where the three rivers converge. Yes, this year we will gather by the river. From this place we shall embrace anew the call to be ministers of the church, professional spiritual care providers, and people of hope.
As I muse over this up and coming event, images of the saints of God come to mind. Not the Communion of Saints in the mystical sense, but rather a communion of unity among diversity. I envision a communion of sisters and brothers called by God to profess one faith, one Lord, and one Baptism.
This confession of faith is not something stagnant as if it were just a set of beliefs indoctrinated in a creed. It’s a confession in the sense of living and breathing. Something like when we first heard the call and responded with heartfelt conviction. I imagine God makes the call to faith in varied and diverse ways so that all might be served. Diversity is like a rainbow that mirrors God’s beauty. We are saints of God celebrating diversity and equality in the Spirit.
The call to chaplaincy is like a double vocation. I am called by Christ to be in the world as one who provides spiritual care perhaps not only as a minister in the church, but as a minister of the church. As such, I am a layperson single or married. As such, I am a professed religious. As such, I am ordained clergy. As such, my identity is tied to the one who says “come follow me.”
I hope you will join us in Pittsburgh as our plenary speakers Father Donald Goergen, OP, Neomi DeAnda, Father Myles Sheehan, SJ, and Sister Carol Keehan, DC, invite and challenge us to reflect on our calling as chaplains that brings together faith, identity, and action. We’ll see where the three rivers converge.
Hugo Gonzalez is Spanish-speaking staff chaplain at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford in Palo, Alto, CA. He also is chair of the 2013 NACC National Conference Planning Task Force.