In Community, Spiritual Care

Beacon Hill at Eastgate Expert Series

We’re delighted to announce that Mary Marks has earned her national board certification for chaplains (BCC). The purpose of earning a BCC is to demonstrate a commitment to the highest professional standards and ethics. In addition to the minimum education requirements (graduate degree and clinical pastoral education), and ecclesial endorsement, competency must be demonstrated in four key areas: Integration of Theory and Practice, Professional Identity and Conduct, Professional Practice Skills, and Organizational Leadership. There are a total of 31 competencies within these four categories. The application process involves submission of extensive written materials, demonstrating competence in each area through actual case examples, letters of reference and evaluations from the supervisor of the clinical pastoral education units.

Following the acceptance of the written portfolio, the individual moves on to an interview by three Board Certified Chaplains who, based on their assessment provide a recommendation to the National Certification Committee of the specific chaplain organization (Association of Professional Chaplains, National Association of Catholic Chaplains, Association of Jewish Chaplains) who then determines of board certification will be granted.

In talking with Mary, she says, “When I decided to change careers and move into chaplaincy it was important to me to go ‘all in’ and I was going to meet the highest standards possible, which means pursuing a master’s level education to be a chaplain and becoming certified. When there is a role that deals with other people and the public, it is important to meet a high level of standards. It is a sign of competence and commitment to the profession, demonstrating ongoing growth and development. It was important to me to achieve that in becoming a chaplain.”

Here at Beacon Hill, many of our residents come from a variety of faith tradition backgrounds. The role of the chaplain is to understand what each person’s faith traditions are and in what practices they need support to feel connected. Does that take the form of worship services in a manner of what they would know in their faith tradition? Is it connecting them with online streaming services, so they can watch their church service? Each of us have our own faith tradition and we feel it is important for all individuals to feel supported spiritually. The chaplains are here to be a listening presence, to listen with empathy, and to be an ongoing non-judgmental support for the individual’s spiritual domain.

“Often times nobody has someone who will come and sit and listen and not judge. We will offer prayer with them, listening to hymns, if that’s something they ask for. We do offer other things all with the goal of supporting what they determined they need,” Mary says, “Some people don’t have a faith tradition, but we all have a spiritual side which is the aspect of our being where we find some sense of finding purpose and meaning in life.”

Spiritual care is a critical component to whole-person centered care, and we are grateful to have Mary Marks as part of our team here at Beacon Hill. “I’ve been amazed that families without seeing [loved ones] for months, have so much gratitude for that amount of time [they are granted under compassionate visitation]. I’ve also been keenly aware of the incredible strain and toll it has taken on staff to watch families being separated from their loved ones, yet all I see is amazing kindness and compassion with families and residents. It leads me on a daily basis, to be praying for an end to the pandemic. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have a loved one in a facility and you can’t go in to see them. If I can offer the same spiritual care to the families, that I offer to the residents and staff, it is a gift. It speaks a lot to Beacon Hill and it’s recognition and support for spiritual care for the whole person, it’s not just the one individual, it’s their family, friends, their entire social network.”

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