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.

Upcoming Events

portrait of Dr. Harold Koenig

Spiritual Care Awareness Week: Oct. 15 - 22

St. Joseph’s Health Care London & the St. Joseph’s Health Care Society are proud to present a special virtual event:

Overcoming Barriers to Spiritual Health

  • Date: Friday, Oct. 15
  • Time: 12 - 1 pm
  • Featured speaker: 
    Harold Koenig, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Associate Professor of Medicine Director, Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

Check back on this page for log-in information for the event.

Past Events for 2021

Come journey from Palm Sunday to Easter

In keeping with the tradition of our founders, the Spiritual Care team, together with Music Therapy, have created a virtual non-denominational service to help staff, patients and residents connect with their faith during Holy Week. The 30 minute service filmed at all our sites includes scripture, hymns and spiritual reflection beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with the glory of Easter.
View the video service:  


A year to remember: Acknowledging loss and offering gratitude

March 11 marks the one year anniversary of a global pandemic being declared. Reflecting upon this milestone, St. Joseph’s staff have offered words describing their feelings of loss and gratitude. A selection of these are shared here with our community.

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 ‘You have but one teacher and you are all brothers' (Matthew 23:8), a trust-based relationship to guide care for the sick. As we are not able to come together due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop Ronald Fabbro is celebrating via this virtual prayer service.

View the service program

Gathering Hymn - Healer of Our Every III - Instrumental

Welcome - Richard Corneil, CEO, St. Joseph's Health Care Society

Introductory Rites & Greeting - Bishop Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B., Bishop of London

Penitential Rite - Bishop Ronald Fabbro

Coming together as God's family, with confidence let us ask the Lord's forgiveness, for he is full of gentleness and compassion.

Lord Jesus, you healed the sick:
Lord have mercy.

Lord Jesus, you forgave sinners:
Lord have mercy.

Lord Jesus, you give yourself to us to heal us and bring us strength:
Lord have mercy

Liturgy of the Word

First Reading - Isahiah 35:1-10

  • Dawn Fania, Spiritual Care Practitioner

Responsorial Psalm 23 - Response: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want

  • Jessica Baker, Spiritual Care Practitioner

Second Reading - James 5:13-17

  • Sandy Harle, Spiritual Care Practitioner

Gospel - Matthew 8:5-17

  • Rev. Etienne Nadonye, OFM, Cap. Chaplain

Homily - Bishop Ronald Fabbro

Universal Prayers - Response: Lord hear our prayer

  • Katherine Spannemann, Spiritual Care Practitioner

Prayer for the Sick - Bishop Ronald Fabbro

Jesus our Lord,
We ask you to have mercy on all who are sick.
Give them your strength and love,
And help them to carry this cross with faith.
May their sufferings be one with yours,
overcome the power of evil,
and lead others to our Father in heaven.
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer,
for you are the Lord for ever and ever. AMEN

The Lord's Prayer - Bishop Ronald Fabbro

Concluding Rite - Bishop Ronald Fabbro

Blessing for those who care for the sick - Bishop Ronald Fabbro

May the wellspring of compassion be opened in you.
May soothing words find a home in you.
May tenderness bless you as you reach out to comfort in body, mind and spirit.
Amid fear or frustration may courage be given you.
May patience keep vigil with you and peace of mind calm you.
May your heart find a song to sing even when you are weary.
May abundant love lift you and gratitude bless you as you live the mission of care
entrusted to you.
And may Almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. AMEN
Go in peace.

Recessional Hymn - Healer of Our Every III

  • Dale Nikkel, Coordinator, Spiritual Care and Kim Nikkel

View the World Day of the Sick video service.

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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: @email.

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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