Pastoral Care

Board-certified chaplains comprise the core of the Interfaith and Spiritual Care staff at Children’s National. Clinically trained on-call chaplains are available to patients, families, and staff 24/7 for support, education, ritual, and consultation. A Spanish speaking chaplain is also available 20 hours per week.

Chaplains are spiritual and pastoral counselors who work with patients and families to access spiritual strengths and resources. Chaplains offer care and support when patients and their families search for meaning in the midst of illness and hospitalization. In addition, chaplains can be advocates for families and patients whose traditions, practices, and values are important in daily life and in decision-making.

Chaplains educate nurses, interns, residents, fellows, faculty, and other staff in being culturally/spiritually sensitive and appropriate. Children’s National chaplains are frequent presenters at national gatherings for the Pediatric Chaplains Network, and other local and national organizations.

Our team offers sacrament, ritual, services, workshops, and memorials to assist in the integration of grieving and loss.

Weekly Services Offered

Catholic mass is held Thursdays at noon and Saturdays at 4:00 pm in the Main Chapel (room 3201 – third floor, main hospital).

Chapels

Children’s National understands that families may need a quiet space for prayer or meditation during their visit or stay at the hospital. Our chapels are open to patients, families, and staff for pastoral and spiritual care 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Recognizing the religious and spiritual diversity of our patients, families, and staff, our chapels primarily represent the traditions of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. Upon request, the staff chaplains can provide rosaries, electric Sabbath candles, prayer rugs, and holy books for each faith community.

History of the Chapels

The original chapel was donated by the family of William Edward Farr Sharon in his memory and was dedicated in June 1977. In the early 2000s, the chapel was moved from the Main Atrium to the third floor of the Main Hospital. The stain-glassed windows were designed to communicate a sense of life, love, and compassion. These windows were a gift from the Board of Lady Visitors and created by a friend of the Sharon family.

The East Inpatient Tower Chapel was originally a conference room for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), but was converted into a chapel after the PICU staff offered up the space for families to have a space for prayer or meditation closer to their children’s units.

Locations of the Chapels

The Main Chapel is located in room 3201, third floor, main building.

The East Inpatient Tower Chapel is located in room 3303, third floor.

Memory Tree

The Memory Tree, a Japanese red split-leaf maple, is a living memorial for our families. Each year, the team hosts an annual remembrance event, giving families an opportunity to make something to hang on the tree in memory of their child. The Memory Tree was purchased in 2010 and continues to grow and thrive in front of the hospital’s Michigan Avenue entrance. 

Recognition

Reverend Kathleen Ennis-Durstine, senior chaplain, has been appointed as a faculty member and a curriculum developer to the Pediatric Chaplains Institute, which is offered to pediatric professional chaplains yearly in a one-week intensive course. Rev. Ennis-Durstine was named as Dean to the Pediatric Chaplain’s Institute in the fall of 2013.

Reverend Kathleen Ennis-Durstine also presented at the most recent Pediatric Chaplains Network Conference. Additionally, Reverend Kathleen Ennis-Durstine co-authored a chapter for an upcoming textbook on palliative care of the pediatric patient edited by Joanne Wolfe, MD, et al. 

Contact Information

Our chaplains are available 24 hours, seven days a week.

  • The senior chaplain and manager, Rev. Kathleen Ennis-Durstine, is on site on the Sheikh Zayed campus Monday–Friday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, room 4201, 202-476-3321
  • Margarita Roque, Spanish language staff chaplain, room 4115, 202-476-2626. (Tuesday and Thursday mornings, all day Wednesday, and Sunday evenings)
  • Rev. Eliezer Oliveira, staff chaplain fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, room 4155, 202-476-5050
  • Rev. Sonna Schambach, staff chaplain, room 4155, 202-476-6736
Resources

Resources

The Office of Interfaith Pastoral and Spiritual Care offers many resources to patients and patient families.

Monthly Pastoral and Spiritual Care Newsletters

Highlights diverse religious and spiritual celebrations and observances. To read a current or past issue, please click on the newsletter issue.

Grace Notes

Daily meditative/inspirational message for subscribed staff.

Caring Thoughts

Booklets available in the chapels:

  • Being Glad
  • Coping with Chronic Pain or Illness
  • Guilt
  • In the Hospital Again?!
  • Loss of Control
  • Meditations and Prayers (updated weekly)
  • Pain
  • Your Hospital Chaplain
  • Prayer in the Midst of Anger
  • Sadness
  • When Prayers Go Unanswered
  • When Your Child is Facing Surgery or a Serious Procedure
  • Why?
  • Worry
  • Your First Stay in the Hospital


Bereavement Support

Grief, Loss, and Remembrance Program

The Office of Interfaith Pastoral and Spiritual Care recognizes that when a child dies, families need compassionate and skilled help in their journey through the grieving processes. It is the mission of the Grief, Loss, and Remembrance program to provide the following:

Resources for Families

  • Memory boxes
  • Age-appropriate books for brothers and sisters to help them understand their siblings death
  • Books and print materials for parents, grandparents, and other family and friends

Outreach to Families

  • Sympathy cards
  • Birthday and anniversary cards
  • Bi-annual newsletter
  • Listserv for families to connect with one another and receive information
  • Seasonal mailings with information and memory-making activities

Remembrance Events

  • Annual remembrance/memorial service for families who have lost a child

Counseling and Referrals

  • One-on-one grief support on community referrals for individual counseling and support
  • Two grief support groups – one in English and one in Spanish. 
    • The English-speaking support group meets the second Tuesday of the month and the Spanish-speaking support group meets Mondays at the groups’ convenience. 
    • Both support groups meet at the Hospital for Sick Children Pediatric Center, which is located at 1731 Bunker Hill Road, NE, Washington, DC 20017.

Education and Support for Staff

  • To ensure culturally and spiritually competent staff
  • To provide one-on-one, as well as unit-based support, during times of crisis and/or grief and loss
Education and Training

Education and Training

The Office of Interfaith Pastoral and Spiritual Care provides a number of training programs, including:

  • Supervised Ministry – a course where seminarians complete supervised clinical work at Children’s National.
  • Pastoral Ministry in the Pediatric Clinical Care Environment – a program focused on religious professionals to deepen their understanding and skill in providing care to families.
  • Undergraduate Semester in Hospital Ministry - a program co-sponsored by The Catholic University of America.

Staff members also are trained in the role of the professional chaplain, religious/spiritual screening and assessment, and other topics. One of our goals is to expand training opportunities to varied populations within the geographic area and across the nation.