The two newest members of the NACC’s Editorial Advisory Panel are chaplains Isabelita Boquiren and Elaine Chan.
Since February, Ms. Boquiren has been manager of spiritual care of Carondelet Health Network, which includes two hospitals in Tucson and one in Nogales, AZ. Prior to accepting this post, she was a hospital lead chaplain, a chaplain/patient advocate, and a hospice chaplain.
Ms. Boquiren studied at the University of California Davis Medical Center.
She said that she was drawn to chaplaincy by a “deepening affection to a new way of seeing, listening and experiencing God in others in their joys, celebrations, sufferings, wounds, and in their dying.” In addition, she recalled, her mother was a “gentle influence” that inspired her to become a chaplain. “Seeing her be compassion, courage, faith, hope, and love to the family and to others, despite the cross and suffering, provided me the blessing to lean on the ‘power at work in us.’”
Ms. Boquiren also has ministered as regional coordinator for the poverty community program of Catholic Charities, as missionary worker for the Pontifical Mission Societies, and as a lay member that “gave voice to the role of the laity in Vatican II’s call for lay participation in Rome,” and as copy desk writer for the Philippines’ Catholic newspaper, which she said “aimed to expose the cry of the poor and the trials of children of the garbage dumps, and the struggles of life in the slums.” She also took lessons on how to care for the destitute and the dying with Blessed Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India.
Her away-from-work activities include nature walks, cooking, gardening, playing the Native-American flute, and writing. “I love belonging to the NACC community of gifted chaplain colleagues and especially the privilege of being on the Vision Editorial Advisory Panel, where I experience the interchange of stimulating ideas for articles to write and the honor of being able to contribute to a publication featuring the work of inspired, talented writers.”
She also enjoys being with her “chaplains in progress – my three children, six grandchildren, and a great-grandchild – all sources of delight and inspiration.”
Ms. Chan is the staff chaplain at New York Hospital Queens in New York. She has been in this position for six months. Previously she was the Catholic chaplain at Beth Israel Brooklyn where she served for nine years. She did two units of CPE with Sister Julie Houser at Queens General Hospital and another two at Beth Israel.
Ms. Chan is a first generation Chinese-American, the oldest of seven children. Her parents are originally from Toishan, China. Her parents left there for Hong Kong when the Communists began taking over China. They immigrated to the United States in 1958. In Hong Kong Ms. Chan’s father was baptized a Roman Catholic. Both Ms. Chan and her mother were baptized in the Church of Transfiguration in New York.
Ms. Chan helped out at her parents’ Chinese laundry while attending school at Our Lady of Pompeii in the West Village of New York. During the recession of the 1970s, her family lost their business and went to work in the garment factories of Chinatown. As a teenager, Ms. Chan helped out at the factory as well as at her aunt’s grocery store in Little Italy. All the while, she also helped to raise her siblings as well as to attend Chinese language classes after school or on Sundays.
Ms. Chan did her undergraduate studies at New York University and has a B.A. in journalism. After attending a year-long Industrial Area Foundation leadership training program on how to put your faith into action, she decided to go for graduate studies in community organization and planning at Hunter College School of Social Work. Upon graduation, Ms. Chan worked at various faith-based organizations on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as well as served as a program officer for a women’s foundation.
In 1994, she attended a summer program at Maryknoll School of Theology. In 1995, she was a member of the Church Women United delegation to the Non-Governmental Organization Women’s Conference in Beijing, China. In 2002, Ms. Chan continued her studies at New York Theological Seminary where she earned a master’s of divinity. It was at NYTS that she discovered a call to chaplaincy.
She’s pleased to be a new member of the NACC Editorial Advisory Panel and hopes to be a frequent contributing writer to Vision.