Canberra Hospital Chaplaincy

Welcome to the Canberra Presbytery Chaplaincy page. (Updated 29 January 2017)

The February liturgy has been added to resources.

Epiphany was a quiet time in the hospital  staff have returned from leave and patient numbers are climbing. There are asways an increase of deaths and accidents this time of year so we are getting bueier and busier. It will increase each week from here to August. Yes, hospitals have ‘seasons’.  Many of our volunteers are still on leave and so our best wishes and prayers for safe travel go with them. If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to volunteer – now is the time to contact us!  After all, this is the year of the rooster – which is supposed to be a year of  change and here we are in Epiphany – the season of discovery. Pick up the phone and spring into action – in any capacity. We really would appreciate it. There will be more detail in the next Perspective but keep in mind it’s not just patient visiting. WE always need people:

  • for chapel (a welcoming community for strangers) – when a patient has the courage and the capability to make it to the chapel, we have a ‘congregation’ to surround them with. It is so important that they do not worship alone
  • we always need musicians – more on the roster lightens the load for everyone
  • liturgists
  • people who like to do statistics
  • Lay and ordained chapel presiders – see note above

None of this involves visiting patients – so you need not feel ill-equipped. But we also need more volunteer visitors – so please don’t put it off. Give me a call. 6244 3768.

We have a few volunteers away sick as well – our prayers are for a full recovery. It is  hard for them to be away and we miss them very much. Happily, some of our past volunteers have rejoined us and we are enjoying interacting with the new CPE students.

I send my thanks also to Braidwood for their amazing financial contribution which has gone into the Presbytery Chaplaincy fund which we draw on to cover our worship and pastoral care materials; training new volunteers and a whole lot of other support things many take for granted in a congregational setting.

We also send our thanks to Yass for their continued support and for the beautiful small crosses that will be treasured by those in need.

and while we are counting blessings – thank God for our steadfast volunteers. They have and continue to give so much. please hold them in your prayers.

We have had a bear explosion. It is wonderful. At first, I was wondering how I would store and distribute all the bears but then I began to feel the love. Every bear is made of love and they will populate the hearts of many. I cannot thank you enough. As Perspective  is not going to print this November – I was compelled to write and article anyway. That’s me, right? So you will find my bear prayer down below under thoughts of the month and a downloadable version in resources,  Thank you one and all.

The Advent and Epiphany liturgies are below in resources. I love this time of year, where we can go more slowly and discover things. It is the season where each week, we ‘learn’ more about the man called Jesus. I hope that you too have time for wonder and amazement during this period.

The next baby memorial is Tues 7 February 2017. It is a sad but wonderful thing for parents to bring their families to the chapel and deeply acknowledge what has happened. It is so important that they meet others that have had a similar experience and know they are not alone. Please remember to refer people to us icoloured crossIf you think they would benefit from such a service. we have had people attend who lost babies years ago – and this is the first chance they have had to mourn. In the olden days – it just didn’t happen. you got on with your life…only we don’t. That tiny temporary creature still inhabits our hearts.

 I have attached the latest liturgy to the resources.

Thoughts and musings of the month

Epiphany – the time when we are supposed to recognise what’s right in front of us.

Epiphany – the moment we see something or someone – in a completely new way.

Epiphany – seeing God in our world

Epiphany – the ground hog day of the Christian calendar  –  the opportunity to start over but do it differently.

Welcome to the beginning of the calendar year – a blank page – a white canvass – a lump of un-carved marble. Today we ask, what will you make?

Today is the first step into the new story. It is the blank journal into which we will write our year. Let us not dwell on the disasters but count the blessings one by one. Let us make this a new story – one where we have more hope; a better chance and an opportunity to be the best we are. I want to take this gift and change one thing that may change my life or the life of others.


Go in peace to bring light to others

And may God go before you

Jesus walk with you

And the Spirit lift your feet.

Amen                                                                                    J Shannon

Time to slow down

Just as we realise the neighbours have their lights up and we’ve just begun to think about the shopping…who can think about shopping if your family is gathered to support someone sick, or your surgery is pending or you’re forcing our way through pain? Who can get on the Christmas bandwagon when this is the time of year you have lost someone, or they are far away? Do you have pangs of guilt for the cards not finished – or started? Your hand to shaky to write? Your heart to broken to scroll cheerful messages across a card?

Give yourself permission to stop. This is advent, the waiting time. The church’s colour is purple, the same as Lent. It is meant to be a time of self reflection, of quiet exploration, wonder and yes, even fear.

Instead of racing to the mall, take a little time to write down all the complicated and mixed feelings you are having right now. Take an inventory to name and care for each one.  Place those feelings under your metaphorical tree. Why not take the easy way out and give donations on line or by phone instead of gifts – do it in the name of your loved ones. You’ll be surprised how happy they will be knowing others have benefited and they don’t have to find space for more stuff.  And instead of cards, look and listen. Reach out by phone, Facebook or whatever and tell people you are saving trees but you love them. Tell them about what’s happening in your life and listen to them. What a year it has been for all of us!

And most of all – look at the strangers you see with kindness. Each one is loved by God as you are. Find the divine gifts they offer freely if only you could notice.

Christmas in Australia  

The heat smells of wheat while the cicadas sing20150228_145033

We wait hoping that the rain will hold off

Long enough to get the fruit in

The days seem long

And slow

While back at the house a willy of activity

The puddings are made

The sheets are changed

Time to get the cots out of the shed

and set them on the sleep-out.

I squint into the light focussed on the hills


It is the in-between time on this ancient land

Not yet reaping – not yet sowing

Not yet arriving but getting ready

Would He ride out of the dust

Like a drover coming home?

Would He gather round the damn resting with the cattle?

Would He come down hard like a summer downpour

we can watch for hours as it creeps across the landscape

Coming, coming, spat, splat, drumming on the tin?

Does He come in the noise of the car doors slamming?

Children shouting? Dogs a barking?

Right now, heat shimmers the horizon,

Tiny birds tweet and dart purposefully,

while the cicadas sing the carols.                J Shannon



How to knit a churchtrauma-teddies

A few months ago, I put out a call in the Pew Sheets for trauma teddies. These are the bears we use:

  • To begin conversations with children in crisis centers who have no words to explain what they’ve experienced
  • To comfort grandchildren, especially when Nan or Pop are too frail to hug their adored grand, great grand and the child is frightened from seeing such vulnerability in previously super human adults
  • As companions to travel with intellectually disabled, treated as adults by the transport and hospital system but crying out as children in bewilderment, fright and loneliness.
  • For patients alone or who believe they are alone because of dementia – who long for touch, who remember the joy of holding someone or something near, who miss their pets long dead

And more. So much more.

What happened was a complete surprise. We had a bear explosion. Bags of bears began turning up on my doorstep and at the hospital. Big ones, little ones – ones with names, some with overalls, scarves or ties, different faces, personalities, a rainbow of colours all made with such care and given freely.

They just kept coming. I began to wonder if each of these bears was a prayer.  Chaplaincy is a lonely business. What we do is never seen by anyone other than the one person we are attending. It is easy to feel disconnected from the very church we represent.

Equally, good people are finding their Christian expression of service in the community becoming harder both because of their own growing frailty or the rules, regs and risks have just made it too hard.

Are the bears a shower of blessings? Yes, the bears will go to others but the prayer carries through me to them. It was like hundreds of kisses from far away.

For Aristotle – the body and soul are not different entities but distinct aspects of the same thing, the body being the matter and the soul being the meaning or purpose.

Just as the bears are knitted from scraps of wool too small to be particularly useful, intertwined they make a possibility of loved expressed. The bears represent some of the scraps of wool that when knotted in a special way form a community. The institution is the body but it is the collective ‘useful’ bits that give meaning – soul. There are many ‘useful’ bits, perhaps the holding crosses from the men’s shed, perhaps the service leaders on Sunday, all of the musicians and lay leaders, elders and volunteers. Don’t forget the volunteer who doesn’t come to church but mows the grass every week. The people who come at Easter and Christmas. The faithful, the not so faithful, the offended and the hurt. The homeless person asleep in the doorway.

People look around on Sunday and say the church is dying. I look at these personality -filled teddies and know, knitted together, it is very much alive.

The church in its birth was cobbled together. It became codified and solidified in buildings and liturgies but then it got stuck in stone. Martin Luther came a long and shook it up. John Wesley came along and said not in building but with the people, God rests. The church of the future will be a bear. It will be all the scraps of love and useful knowledge, the foundation of faith – not the dogma of men but meaning and community will hold it together in a in a unique and inclusive, personality-filled act of love. It may be messy, it may be a little soft but it will be stuffed with hope.

To all the people who send their love and support in silent ways, I feel blessed. Thank you. Thank God we can still find expressions of Christ’s unfailing love.

I will ensure it multiplies.                                             Rev J Shannon

Become a supporter Help with chapel We are always looking for volunteers to help with chapel at The Canberra Hospital. We also conduct ecumenical services at Easter and Christmas at other hospitals in the region. We need volunteers to help set up, play an instrument, read and be liturgical presenters, meet and greet and generally make people welcome. Please contact us if you are willing.

Become pastoral carers We are always looking for more volunteers .The Hospitals run regular induction programs and the ACT Clinical Pastoral Care Council runs regular courses in the ACT and around the region including Wagga Wagga and Goulburn. If you are considering becoming a pastoral carer, please talk to us. We will offer you the training you need.

Soft toys, love tokens and other support New soft toys for the children’s wards and emergency department are always appreciated but think small, as our volunteers have to manhandle them around to the wards. Other handcrafts that we can leave behind as tokens to encourage, support and give hope to patients are wonderful. If you have a special gift for making bookmarks, broaches, stickers, butterflies, cards or other small items, please let us know. Log Out20150825_105942


Help me to pray – booklet on learning to listen Help me pray DIY Chapel – a self-service service –DIY chapel2 summer 12  Bedside communion liturgy –hospital communion Summer 13,  Recent liturgies which include communion -,  liturgy 8 jan 15 afternoon llitugy, liturgy 5 Feb 15afternoon 5 Feb 15 llitugy, liturgy 9 April 15, Afternoon 16 april 15, liturgy 7 May 15, liturgy june 4 15, DIY chapel4 winter12, afternoon 4 Feb 16 llitugy, liturgy 1-14 Feb 2016, liturgy Lent 5 Feb-March 2016. liturgy Lent Feb-March 2016, Liturgy Easter 1 April 16, Liturgy1 5 May 16, Baby memorial service OOS,, how-to-knit-a-church, nov-16-liturgy, liturgy-dec-1-16-advent1, liturgy-dec-2-16-advent3, Jan 17 liturgy

RosterCanberra Hospital Chapel Helpers–  TCH Chapel roster July- Dec 16 v5

About us UnitingCare NSWACT and the Canberra Region Presbytery supports chaplaincy in hospitals in ACT and NSW. UnitingCare provides a full time chaplain, Rev Jean Shannon, whose work as  Hospital Chaplaincy Leader currently focuses on the five hospitals in Canberra, Canberra Hospital, John James Hospital, Calvary Hospital, Canberra Private Hospital and Clare Holland House hospice. We have ministers and volunteers who visit hospitals in Canberra, Queanbeyan, Bega, Bateman’s Bay, Merimbula, Goulburn, Cooma.


Jean Shannon jean at or Tel: 02 6244 3768