Chaplaincy growth surge in prisons and hospitals
BEVERLEY Hermann is part of a boom in chaplaincy services in Queensland communities.
She is one of the first graduates from a Queensland-first pastoral care course offered by Brisbane-based not-for-profit organisation Carinity.
A chaplain at Brisbane Women's Correctional Centre at Wacol, Ms Hermann is one of eight new Carinity chaplains who will serve in correctional centres and hospitals around the state.
"I grew up in a Christian home, but walked away from church as a young adult. After divorce and 30 years of searching for spiritual truth elsewhere, I went to a church service and heard afresh the message of God's love," she said
"I love to share Bible stories with the people in prison. I also love to share the gospel message and explain scripture passages."
Chaplaincy is experiencing a growth surge, with Carinity seeing a 10 per cent increase in the take-up of chaplaincy positions over the past year, and strong engagement in chaplaincy training.
Manager of Carinity chaplaincy and mission services, Reverend Don McPherson, said the increasing demand for chaplains is being driven by growing realisation of the benefits of caring for people holistically and by increased social isolation and rising incarceration rates.
"When people think of chaplains they often think of school chaplains. But there is also increasing need for chaplains to support and guide people in the long-standing chaplaincy areas of prisons, hospitals and aged care communities," he said.
"Men and women who are incarcerated are among the most marginalised people in our society. A common attitude to people in prison is 'out of sight out of mind'. People in prison are at the lowest point in their lives.
"Reports are multiplying that social media and smart phones increase isolation. While people have more devices to connect with each other, human touch and face-to-face interaction is diminishing as people have fewer personal conversations."
Carinity has more than 50 chaplains working multi-denominationally across Queensland in hospitals, aged care and retirement communities and correctional centres.
"Our chaplains provide encouragement, support and spiritual care to people in times of personal need. They provide a listening ear and assist people to access spiritual resources for living and for facing challenging times," Rev McPherson said.
One of the few chaplaincy trainers in Queensland, Carinity's Certificate IV in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care, offered through The Training Collaborative, is the first course of its type in the state.
Now in its 70th year, Carinity is an outreach of Queensland Baptists which also operates aged-care and retirement communities, youth homeless shelters, disability services, and alternative education schools across Queensland.