By David Lewellen
The NACC’s 2023 retreat opened Thursday morning with a Mass to honor the association’s newly certified chaplains.
Bishop Jeffrey Haines, the NACC’s episcopal liaison, reminisced in his homily about the hospital chaplain in West Bend, WI, whom he got to know in his first parish assignment in the 1980s. Sr. Donna Siegel “would enter into the world of each and every patient she encountered,” he said. “She was one of the first experiences I ever had in collaborative ministry.”
And, he added, she was certified. “I know how important that is,” he said. Speaking to those who have completed their certification, he said, “You are responding to a calling, and it is something sacred. It’s a commitment, it’s an empowerment to carry on the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”
Colleen Mas’ certification journey took four years, including detours because of the pandemic. Being at the retreat in person, “with fellow professionals who understand the process,” gives certification extra meaning, she said.
Paulina Alvarado, however, finished in one year, and her husband was such a part of the journey that he came with her from Washington state for the ceremony to help her “mark the completion of this phase.”
For Stephen Audu, a newly certified chaplain from Des Moines, the retreat in Mundelein is kind of a homecoming — he completed a master’s degree here in 2003. “It’s wonderful to come back. It’s a beautiful environment,” he said.