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Priest offers solace through San Francisco chaplaincy program

Priest offers solace through San Francisco chaplaincy program

An inspiring story from the San Francisco Chronicle highlights the vital ministry of hospital chaplains:

Anthony Yee was pretty sure he was going to die, and if he wasn’t, he wanted to kill himself.

Guillain-Barre, an autoimmune syndrome, had left him immobilized and in immense pain in the intensive care unit at San Francisco General Hospital. At the time, Yee, 39, could communicate only by blinking.

But then he began meeting with the hospital’s chaplaincy. Filled with existential questions about the value of his life, the chaplains helped him find conclusions and answers on his own.

Yee said the chaplains brought him out of his despair, and through that, he realized there was more he wanted to accomplish in life.

“When you’re ill, you find out who your friends are,” said Yee, who spent more than two months in the hospital’s intensive care unit and has been in rehab for a year at Laguna Honda Hospital. “It’s not that the people in your life don’t visit, but a lot of times they don’t know what to say. That’s where people like Elizabeth come in.”

Elizabeth is the Rev. Elizabeth Welch, an Episcopalian priest and the spiritual care coordinator of the Sojourn Chaplaincy at San Francisco General.

A petite woman with a big laugh, Welch, 34, tears up quickly when talking about the patients she has known in her six years helping to oversee the chaplaincy at the hospital.

Read full story here.

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Sara Miles

The chaplains at SFGH are amazing: fearless, funny, and full of grace. So glad to see this story.

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Bob Patrick

This story touches me heart seriously in many ways. I feel the tug to become a hospital volunteer. Both my parents passed while in long-term care facilities. Last year, at my mother's passing, I did not want to go back. But now, a year later, I realize how much loneliness there is in these facilities. People do not receive visits from their family--and when the family does come, it is as Yee says in the story, "It's not that the people in your life don't visit, but a lot of times they don't know what to say."

Like I said, this is a serious story.

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