On Friday, December 4th, 2020, the ceremonial closing of the fifth cycle of the “Hospital Chaplain” qualification course took place at the Evangelical Theological Faculty of Charles University. The 310-hour course is organised by the ETF in cooperation with the Catholic Theological Faculty of Charles University, the Association of Hospital Chaplains of the Czech Republic and individual churches in the Czech Republic. Successful completion of the course is one of the conditions for the work of clergy in medical facilities.
Half of the twelve graduates already works in hospitals, the others are getting ready and gaining experience. The theoretical and practical parts are connected as much as possible, so that the chaplains can contemplate their work and their attitudes in medical facilities while facing various situations – in relation to patients, their loved ones and hospital staff. Therefore, they attend courses in the field of medical law or ethics, as well as special pastoral care and management. A total of three 1-week internships, which the chaplains complete in three different hospitals under the guidance of experienced chaplains, are a great learning experience of both communication and self-knowledge.
One of the important and valuable aspects of the course is ecumenical cooperation. Both the course instructors and the practice leaders represent at least three churches with the participants themselves being from five different churches. There is no doubt that in our country, ecumenical cooperation between churches, but also the ability to communicate with people of other religions and people who profess no faith, is a basic condition for chaplain’s work. As well as the art of cooperation in multidisciplinary teams. The course provides invaluable experience for this.
Like all other education, the course was marked by the situation regarding COVID-19. Nevertheless, the experience of teaching online, new opportunities for pastoral work, conversations with people working in health care, and supportive interviews with patients who do not have the opportunity to visit – all of these showed the importance of chaplaincy and added a new dimension to the course. And we are already looking forward to another cycle.
Ladislav Beneš, Dr., Department of Practical Theology, ETF UK