By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
A blessing celebration was held Oct. 23, 2019 for the new Spiritual Reflection Room at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon, featuring multi-faith prayers for the sacred space, the new hospital, staff, chaplains and spiritual care providers.
Present for the celebration were representatives of the Cas and Marie Broda Family Foundation and members of the Broda family, who donated $1 million to the children’s hospital Foundation for the spiritual space.
Rosine Garabedian, site lead for the children’s hospital, was MC for the ceremony, held in the new Spiritual Reflection Room on the main floor of the new facility.
She acknowledged that the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital stands on Treaty 6 territory and the homeland of the Métis. “Recognizing this history is important to our future and to our efforts to close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and I pay my respects to the land.”
Elder Ron Thompson, First Nations and Métis Relations with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, opened with a prayer in his language and in English: “We pray for the children, for the mothers who are coming to have their children here, for the people wo come to the emergency unit… help, bless, guide the doctors, nurses and staff.”
Brynn Boback-Lane, CEO of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation spoke about the history of the Spiritual Reflection Room in the new hospital, thanking donors, elders, educators, clergy, and the entire Saskatchewan Health Authority family for the support that led to the opening of the Spiritual Reflection Room.
“When we thought of the creation of a children’s hospital many, many years ago, for the province’s children and mothers to be, discussions were very, very clear on making sure that it was (a place of) diversity, inclusion and sensitivity to all peoples, all cultures and all situations,” Boback-Lane said.
She described how as planning went on for the new building, it became clear that regardless of the size of space to be dedicated, “we needed somewhere to reflect, to pause and to pray, where faith could be observed and carried out in our own ways, and that it was not a luxury, but a necessity, and was required in a facility that would promote healing and well being.” The resulting multi-faith space has been designed to be simple enough to permit each person, each child, and each family to bring in items, prayers and rituals that are symbolic and meaningful to them. “This space was created to capture one heart and one spirit and to welcome and support faith of every kind.”
Boback-Lane noted that there are plans to install stained glass in the large windows at the front of the room with imagery of sky, water, earth and air. “We hope it will fill your hearts,” she said, “and give an opportunity to leave burdens at the threshold of this very sacred space.”
Imam Ilyas Sidyot of the Islamic Association of Saskatoon then blessed the Spiritual Reflection Room. “May God Almighty bless all of us, shower his choicest mercy upon each of us, accept our efforts, services, and make us among those who will become a source of benefit for all the people who are served here,” he said, before praying a verse from the Holy Quran.
Rosine Garabedian spoke about the work and cooperation of the various hospital chaplains who provide spiritual care in the hospital on behalf of their particular denominations and faith communities, and then addressing those in attendance for the blessing ceremony, who represented many different faith traditions.
“As leaders in your own faith communities, you generously support patients and their families at our hospital here the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital as well as at Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon City Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital,” she said. “When people get sick or suffer emergency medical conditions, they often need to address questions of faith and spirituality. And we are truly grateful that you respond to those calls. Your presence today is a sign of our work together to provide compassionate care…. You and many others who couldn’t be here today represent a great cloud of people who support the spiritual dimension of health.”
The chaplains and spiritual care providers present were then blessed by Rev. Ron Bestvater, who serves as a hospital chaplain on behalf of Lutheran Ministry in Hospitals, Saskatoon. He stepped in on behalf of Rabbi Claudio Jodorkovsky of Congregation Agudas Israel, who was unwell and could not attend.
Proclaiming Psalm 34 of the Hebrew scriptures, Bestvater read: “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry…. The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
He continued: “Holy One, Almighty One: many are called to bring love, support, compassion to support the crushed spirit in the name of the One from whom the Spirit comes. Holy and Almighty One, we give you thanks for each of those servants that you have called into this place – for each chaplain, for each member of the clergy in the community, for every leader of every faith community in this area – and we ask that your many manifold eternal blessing will be upon them and in their words and in their hearts and in their minds.”
The Executive Director of Children’s and Maternal Services for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Carrie Dornstauder, described the new building and its services, including many new and upcoming services, and the “hub and spoke” model of care to ensure that all communities in the province are part of the strategy to provide pediatric and maternal care.
“Our philosophy of care is changing. We didn’t just pick up services fromm one building and bring them over to a new building. We have a whole new philosophy of care that really respects the child and family-centred rights,” she said. “We are committed to improving the experience of all faiths and all families with specific focus on our new Canadian families and our Indigenous families.”
Rev. Cathy Coates of the United Church of Canada then blessed the building and its services, praying: “God of mystery, we find You in hands being held, we find You in hugs that we give. We find You in words spoken and in silence that is shared. We find You in moments of crisis and times of celebration, amid pain and comfort, release and renewal.”
She continued: “On this day, O God, we mark a new beginning. So, may this hospital be a source of hope and a beacon of health. May this building bring joy to new families and catch the tears of all who mourn. May this building be a tool to continue the good work of staff whose helping hands are held out to all ages. As we each work in our own area of expertise, may this building be a place filled with compassion and truth and love. May the halls be blessed with laughter and conversations. May each break room for staff be a place of rest and renewal. May each test centre be a place of discovery. And, O God, may each bed, from the tiniest bassinet to the pull-out couch be a place of healing.”
Finally, Catholic Chaplain Fr. Rhéal Bussière, led a responsive prayer for patients, families and staff in attendance.
“Blessed is God who creates us varied and many, needing one another. Blessed are our traditions, varied and many, weaving a tapestry of compassion. Blessed is our work in this hospital – ritual, listening, compassion. Blessed is our common dream of offering spiritual support to children and all who love them. We leave blessed by our connections to one another – to the spirit of life. We leave this place of healing and hope. And may we bless one another and the world with our caring.”
A reception followed the celebration, organized by Jacqueline Saretsky, coordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, a ministry supported through donations to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.