Canberra Hospital Chaplaincy

Welcome to the Canberra Hospital Chaplaincy page.
Uniting – Canberra Hospital Chaplain 
Uniting‘s Hospital Chaplain is Rev Andrew Mead. Andrew can be contacted on 02 6244 3768 or by email

 (last updated 3 March 2017 by Rev Jean Shannon who is now in Sydney with Uniting)

Uniting are in the process of recruiting the new hospital chaplain for the Canberra Region. Please have patience and my prayer is that you will gather round the new person as they begin their Ministry here.

Epiphany was a quiet time in the hospital  staff have returned from leave and patient numbers are climbing. There are always an increase of deaths and accidents this time of year so we are getting busier 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 23 May 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

In this world

There are times when we see the ‘thin’ places – the times when we know God is here. It could have been a breath of air, or a sacred presence in a time of need but remember. When asked, we can describe the sense in detail. But I was wondering why do we always speak of it as in the past?

Did we close up shop years ago? Or are we just not here right now?

I had one of those moments this week when a beautiful, refined and dignified woman said, I’ll be the birdie and she let me feed her – without so much as a wince. The trust she put in my hands to share this private embarrassing moment – without embarrassment because of the grace she always carries. She has an inner light that thrills all her meet her. How can a person be so, what is it? So…what? That makes them glow from the inside and anyone in their presence feels honoured. It’s not haughty nor is it sycophantic – it is just the shining light of the love of God and gratefulness for this life we’ve been given .

It is possible for a person to be a ‘thin’ place and I think the transfiguration was that moment for Peter, James and John. That is the moment they realised, Jesus was the light.

Was that their moment – As they went about their ministries , did they only ever talk about it in the past tense?

That would be a shame.

Lord, keep me awake every day so I can notice your presence in this world. Amen.


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, Feb 17 liturgy

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

About us Uniting NSWACT and the Canberra Region Presbytery supports chaplaincy in hospitals in ACT and NSW. Uniting 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.


The Chaplain on  Tel: 02 6244 3768