NACC volunteering fosters relationships, reminds chaplain of people’s goodness, resiliency
Name: Linda Anne Bronersky
Work: Vice President of Mission Services, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and Franciscan Ministries, Wheaton, IL.
Member since: 1980. I was certified as a chaplain in 1979 and a CPE supervisor in 1984. I also pursued ACPE certification in 2001.
Volunteer service: As a chaplain and a CPE supervisory candidate, I began my relationship with the people of NACC as an interviewer among colleagues seeking certification. It was a privilege to share in the journey of so many competent people who became NACC Board Certified Chaplains. During the days of regions, I belonged to Region VII serving on the Certification Interview Committee for three years and then as chair for an additional six years. I learned so much mentoring both interviewers and candidates for certification. Following my role as chair, I partnered with women across the Chaplain Cognate groups in planning the Women’s Pre-Conference Gatherings for Dialogue 88 and Dialogue 94! During that time I was then invited to serve on the Certification Commission for six years where I worked alongside visionary leaders within NACC as well as fellow incredible leaders who were Clinical Pastoral Educators.
Next I served as chair of appeals. In 2000, NACC leadership began talking about the 2002 Symposium with the bishops on the Anointing of the Sick. I was part of the planning team and a facilitator of the symposium attended by bishops, mission leaders and chaplains. The conversations were rich and the experience was transformational as we listened, spoke from the heart and learned about the richness of the sacramental rituals within our Roman Catholic tradition.
The 2007 Pastoral Symposium in Omaha was a gathering of creative colleagues embracing a new vision of the chaplain as educator, advocate, compassionate companion and professional member of the interdisciplinary team. During these days, we talked about imagining new places of clinical practice and about measurement and outcomes. I am grateful to once again serve on the Certification Commission during a time when spiritual service is both recognized and facing challenges. This time we walk as partners in healing with our many professional colleagues in medicine, nursing, case management, pharmacy, physical/occupational therapy, psychology, dietary and other fields.
Book on your nightstand: “Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life,” by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat (1998), is my encyclopedia for reflective thoughts on many different topics. I use it often in creating rituals to ignite my own creative thinking.
Book you recommend most often: I often recommend “Making Health Care Whole: Integrating Spirituality into Patient Care” (2010), by Dr. Christina Puchalski, who describes a vision of spiritual care and pathways that hold the patient/family at the center. Dr. Puchalski’s model of care invites all healthcare professionals to connect personally with patients i.e., listening to fears and possibilities, hopes and dreams. The members of the healthcare team collaborate with the patient as partners in their care, providing a therapeutic relationship focused on how the patient finds solace, a comfort connection, meaning and purpose in the midst of seeking healing.
Favorite spiritual resource: I find the Word of God nourishing especially in my morning prayer. I also find nature to be a spiritual guide as every season speaks to me about listening and noticing God’s presence. Both nurture my faith and call me to pay attention to the rhythm of silence and contemplation foundational to being a healing presence within the spiritual care ministry and my work as a mission leader.
Favorite fun self-care activity: I enjoy walking in nature and spending time playing with the younger children in our extended family.
Favorite movie: “The Sound of Music” (1965) is a family favorite. My sisters and I first saw the movie on the big screen in downtown Chicago with our Mom. It was a memorable day. Since that time all the nieces and nephews have a fondness for it, too, and often put on family shows based on the story and music.
Favorite retreat spot: I found the Trappist Monastery in Snowmass, CO, my most memorable place for retreat. It is the beauty of the mountains in all seasons. The commitment to contemplation of the monks and aspen trees still fill me with a sense of God’s greatness, goodness, mystery and majesty.
Personal mentor or role model: I have been blessed with great mentors and role models at significant times of transition in my life. Mary Jo Hazard, executive coach, continues to be a woman who models compassionate leadership and focuses on the possibilities in every situation.
Famous/historic mentor or role model: Dorothy Day is a role model as a woman who remained passionate about her relationship with God, herself and people. Her personal commitment to prayer along with her heart of mercy and justice capture for me important practices, characteristics and commitments for a life dedicated to caring for people.
Why did you become a chaplain? I love people and enjoy listening to experiences of light and darkness sprinkled with life stories, be they around a healthcare crisis, a significant life event like the birth of a child, a marriage, or the blessings of special celebrations.
What do you get from NACC? I have met incredible people through the years who have each touched me through sharing their gifts, family experiences and professional goals. I have valued the professionalism of NACC that has continued to be marked by compassion and competence.
Why do you stay in the NACC? People often hear me say “NACC is my professional home.” NACC provides me with opportunities to serve as a Roman Catholic laywoman. I have had many positive experiences of ministry that welcome and bless the diverse roles and perspectives of both men/woman; ordained/non-ordained, all who bring to the profession of chaplaincy God’s healing presence.
Why do you volunteer? I always learn so much in working together with others on committees, commissions and at national and regional gatherings. I believe that the essence of ministry is grounded in relationships.
What volunteer activity has been most rewarding? Representing NACC in working with women colleagues in ACPE, APC, NAJC and NACC in planning Dialogue 88 and Dialogue 94 was incredibly rich and profoundly transformational. We met for more than 18 months, each time to plan experiences that affirmed women and acknowledged the gift of the feminine in seeking spiritual wellness and integration. In addition, I have really enjoyed working on the Certification Commission as the focus is on support of certification, professionalism, and best practice of the Board Certified Chaplain.
What have you learned from volunteering? I have learned that the richness of life and spiritual growth is born, nurtured and deepens in service to God’s people. I am always deeply moved by the goodness of people, the resiliency of the human spirit and the promise of new places and new models of ministry.