By David Lewellen
Twenty-four recently certified chaplains celebrated the latest step of their journeys as they received their certificates in a missioning Mass.
Whatever a patient’s religion, “you let them know ‘I’m here for you, I want to hear who you are, I want to hear who God is to you,’” Fr. Jack Crabb, S.J., said in his homily. He charged the newly certified to practice good self-care, “but I’m not going to ask for a show of hands on how many do it.” He praised the new generation of chaplains for taking up the mission. The cohort received enthusiastic cheers from their more experienced colleagues and received their certificates from Executive Director David Lichter, Board Chair Mary T. O’Neill, and Mary Davis, co-chair of the Certification Commission.
Following the Mass, the newly certified went outside for a chilly but beautiful group photo against the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains.
Through the ceremony, “I felt I belonged to the NACC,” said Fr. Akajiaku Eluka of Patchogue, NY. “I got to meet my (professional) family.” Deacon Michael Bolesta of Addison, TX, said, “They could have just mailed it, but coming here made it special — and to receive it in the context of Mass.”
“It’s huge. I have no words,” said Kristie Zahn of Racine, WI. “It’s very humbling and very rewarding.”
Eugenia Lai of Sugarland, TX, brought her husband and daughters to see the ceremony. The family made a point of coming in person, she said, because “It means a lot to be commissioned by the whole congregation to serve.”