Spiritual Care

Spirituality and Spiritual Care

The definition of spirituality differs from person to person, across ethnicity, gender, class and cultural lines, but a common thread exists; that there is a power greater than oneself implying an intuitive knowing that there is meaning and order to the flow of our lives’ events.

Our human spiritual dimension is a major healing force; it can make the difference between life and death, wellness and illness.

When illness, loss, grief, or pain strike a person, one’s energy is often depleted and spirit is affected, often producing spiritual needs and concerns. People are often energized through their “spirit” resulting in a movement toward wellness and enthusiasm in relationships.

Examples of spiritual needs include hope, meaning, purpose in life, a sense of community, and forgiveness.

Mission Statement

Through all phases of life...
from celebration to loss...

We serve people as they connect their spirituality with the experience of injury, disease and disability.

We do this by living out the values of St. Joseph's Health Care London: Respect, Excellence, Compassion.

We respect and honour the sacredness of each person.

As professionally educated and clinically-trained Spiritual Care Practitioners, we continue to develop our expertise to meet the needs of those we serve. Compassion flows from understanding the needs of those we serve, in a spiritual care relationship.


Current Events

Spiritual Care Awareness Week October 16-22, 2022

Holistic health care involves caring for the spiritual needs of our patients, their family members and staff.  As a faith-based organization, we recognize the importance of spiritual care, and we honour those who provide this service.

St. Joseph’s has a dedicated team of spiritual care practitioners who work as multi-faith chaplains providing compassionate, spiritual and religious support to those who need it. In addition, our chaplains also offer spiritually oriented therapy, group facilitation, chapel, and contribute to a variety of special projects.  We extend a special word of thanks to these hard-working practitioners. 

We have also been blessed to have spiritual care volunteers who provide support in a variety of religious roles throughout the organization.  These volunteers have been greatly missed throughout the pandemic, and we extend special appreciation for them as they join us again.

Spiritual Care Awareness Week (Oct. 16 - 22) helps us to take a moment to recognize those who listen carefully, care deeply, and respond gently – in the spirit of our founders, who showed us the importance of caring for the whole person – body, mind and spirit.  

Spiritual Care is pleased to offer a webinar entitled ‘From Moral Distress to Moral Imagination’ on Monday October 17th, 2022 from 12 – 1 pm with presenter Francis Maza, VP of Mission, Ethics & Spirituality for Providence Health Care. Learn more about this event and register online.


Past Events

Come journey - from Palm Sunday to Easter

In keeping with the tradition of our founders, St. Joseph’s Spiritual Care and Music Therapy team from Mount Hope, have created a virtual non-denominational service to help staff, patients and residents connect with their faith during Holy Week. This 30-minute service was filmed in the St. Joseph’s Chapel and includes scripture, hymns and spiritual reflection beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with the glory of Easter.

World Day of the Sick

Every year, St. Joseph's observes a Mass for World Day of the Sick, which Pope John Paul II began in 1992. It’s an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and suffering and also give thanks to the families, health care workers, volunteers and community who provide them with assistance and care. This year's theme is “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36) – Standing beside those who suffer on a path of charity.

As we are not able to come together due to the pandemic, Bishop Joseph Dabrowski will be celebrating through this virtual prayer service. 

Download the program for the 2022 World Day of the Sick service.

Virtual Memorial Service

It has been a long-standing tradition at St. Joseph’s to offer an in-person memorial service to honour those patients and residents who have passed. COVID-19 has disrupted and delayed many of our normal gatherings – including our in-person memorial services. 

To help provide an opportunity for remembrance during this time, the Spiritual Care Department has prepared a special virtual memorial service to enable family members, staff and those in the community to acknowledge the losses we have experienced, and to help in the grieving process. The simple virtual service includes reflection, poetry, music – and a candle lighting to acknowledge everyone we remember.


Clinical Pastoral Education

Placement Process

Program Structure: Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an experiential-based educational program and provides students with rich and varied learning opportunities in the art, science and practice of spiritual care in a clinical health care setting.

Over 25 years of experience in the provision of CPE education has enabled us to continually refine and improve our experiential-based program. We use an adult-based teaching style to build on the knowledge base our students bring to the course.  Theological, psychological, psychotherapeutic, sociological and ethical themes are woven throughout every training unit.  

CPE units are provided on a variety of our hospital sites. Spiritual Care provides service in all Programs in the hospital and across the continuum of health care.  St. Joseph’s services patients (adolescents to elderly) with complex and chronic diseases, chronic mental illness, rehabilitation and recovery needs, and veterans and residents in our long-term care programs.

We foster opportunities for students to roll up their sleeves and get right to work in clinical areas.  This is followed up with reflection, analyses, and integration of learning from caregiving experiences. CPE also fosters students’ personal learning goals to help them achieve their potential in providing spiritual care to others.  By working directly with patients, family and interprofessional team members from a variety of health care disciplines, students build their skills in supporting others on their own unique sacred paths. 

Clinical units of training are offered on a full time and part time basis. Three levels of training are offered at St. Joseph’s Health Care London:

  • Basic Level CPE (2 successful Basic Units are required to move to Advanced Training)
  • Advanced Level CPE (2 successful Advanced Units are required to move toward certification as a Specialist in Pastoral Care)
  • Supervisory Education for those who have achieved Specialist Certification and are interested in training as a Teaching Supervisor, CPE.

Placement options 

Spiritual Care offers a variety of placement opportunities depending on the availability of a teaching supervisor and on the sufficient number of successful student applications.  Each unit consists of a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 6 students.

Full time intensive 12 week (400 hour) units are offered during the summer months.  Part time (400 hour) extended units are also an option during Fall/Winter months if there are a sufficient number of interested and successful applicants.

Length of placement 

Each CPE unit involves 400 hours of training which is divided equally between a) direct clinical experience providing spiritual care to patients, families and staff and b) various group educational processes.

Written assignments also form part of the learning agenda.

Evaluation process

Students are evaluated utilizing a national CASC/ACSS standardized evaluation tool that is competency based.  Evaluations are completed by both the teaching supervisor and by the student themselves.

There is a mid-term evaluation and a final evaluation.

In addition there is a formal feedback process through which students receive feedback from interprofessional team members in their assigned clinical areas.  

Student also have the opportunity to evaluate and provide feedback to their clinical areas as to how they have experienced the clinical area team’s support of their learning goals.

Regulatory Body/Professional Association

Our organization is accredited with CASC/ACSS (Canadian Association for Spiritual Care/Association Canadienne de soins Spirituels) as an official teaching hospital for Clinical Pastoral Education. Our teaching supervisors are certified members of CASC/ACSS [and are members of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario]. 

The Canadian Association for Spiritual Care/Association Canadienne de soins Spirituels. Business Office: 27-1267 Dorval Drive, Oakville, ON L6M 3Z4. Toll Free: 1-866-442-2773. Fax: (289) 837-480.

Local University affiliations for our training program include the University of Western Ontario’s St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Seminary and Huron University College (Anglican).

Process for placements

To initiate the application process contact Teaching Supervisor: stephen.yeo@sjhc.london.on.ca.

The application process includes a written application, references and a face to face interview.

It is not necessary that college and/or seminary education requirements be complete for education to begin. 

See the CASC/ACSS website for information about establishing equivalency of past education and for academic requirements for advanced and supervisory training.

People with backgrounds in various health care disciplines also benefit from this training. 

More information about professional certification is available on the CASC website. 

Orientation process

Interns participate in the organizational orientation processes.  In addition, they are oriented to their assigned clinical areas by the staff chaplains who cover that program/clinical unit.  Didactics provide orientation to processes such as charting, spiritual assessment processes, etc.

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