Program 169 • 29 mins


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Left to Right: Rev. Michael McElhinny, Rev. Lucy Sanders, Rev. Beth Loomis

Chaplains at hospitals and other health care institutions serve both religious and non-religious patients and their families, people who may be facing a medical emergency, and sometimes even a life-threatening condition. The role of chaplains is to comfort anyone who may feel afraid, angry, alone. In some cases, a health challenge can trigger a spiritual crisis, and chaplains are trained to help patients sort through complex feelings that may arise. In this episode of Humankind, we hear stories of inspiring and sometimes profound encounters with patients by three Boston-based chaplains: Rev. Michael McElhinny, Director of Chaplaincy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston; Rev. Lucy Sanders, Director of Pastoral Care, at Sherrill House, a nursing and rehabilitation facility in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts; and Rev. Beth Loomis, Director of Pastoral Care at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge.

As chaplains, we get a chance to listen to a person for a long period of time, so that we can understand what they’re looking for, and also try to help them to tap into what’s inside of them that is strong, that is calm, that is pretty stable, in a very chaotic environment. To help them think about what their resources are, what really matters to them, what’s going to help them right now. I think that we are able to help a lot of people to find their own answers. We don’t generally have answers. We ask questions, trying to keep people talking, and finding their own way.”

—Rev. Lucy Sanders, health care chaplain, Sherrill House nursing facility, Jamaica Plain, MA


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