Hospital chaplaincy: Diocese implements a new model of pastoral care of the sick



As the Diocese of Camden implements a more comprehensive approach in its ministry to the sick and disabled, a new model of hospital chaplaincy has been developed to better meet the needs of hospitalized parishioners throughout South Jersey.

The new model partners a priest chaplain with either a deacon or lay minister associate chaplain assigned to a group of hospitals. Some of these teams will also include additional women religious and pastoral associates. The diocese has created six “hospital clusters” in Southern New Jersey, arranged by their geographic proximity and size. (See sidebar for list of hospital clusters and chaplains.)

“The new model ensures that all of our parishioners have timely access to pastoral care in this new age of often very short hospital stays,” said Deacon Jerry Jablonowski, director of the new Diocesan Department of Home and Parish Healthcare Services. “These chaplains are well experienced in this ministry and will work together as a team to serve our parishioners needs while hospitalized.”

Chaplains are responsible for administering the sacrament of the sick; conducting pastoral visits for patients, families and hospital staffs; helping coordinate the visits of parish Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist in their work of bringing Communion to the sick; and assisting in a diocesan-wide effort to educate the Catholic faithful about the sacrament of the sick.

“We need to catechize our Catholic parishioners about this sacrament of healing and its positive effects, and dispel old thinking of it as only the sacrament of the dying, or Extreme Unction,” Deacon Jablonowski said.

The associate chaplains will maintain communication with the local parishes and pastors, informing them of parishioners who are hospitalized (with the permission of the patient) and will assist patients being discharged to link in to the other health-related services being offered by the newly formed Diocesan Home and Parish Healthcare Services. Deacon Jablonowski hopes this will help ease patients’ transition home and facilitate the parish’s outreach efforts to its members who are ill or recovering from sickness.

They will also review and evaluate the Catholic presence in the many long term care facilities in South Jersey to assure that their Catholic residents remain connected to their local parish through regular Mass and prayer services.

Hospital chaplaincy will now fall under the auspices of the newly formed Diocesan Department of Home and Parish Healthcare Services, led by Deacon Jerry Jablonowski. Under this new departmental umbrella, chaplaincy joins the group of healthcare services that make up the Department of Home and Parish Healthcare Services, including the existing Parish Nurse program and Stephen Ministry programs, and eventually new initiatives, such as a Non-Medical Home Care Agency and Care Coordination Service.

“Hospital chaplains provide a wonderful ministerial outreach to those who are acutely ill and are inpatients in the many hospitals here in the diocese. This valuable ministry is just one of the many ways that the Diocese of Camden cares for its people,” Deacon Jablonowski said.

Father Sanjai Devis, VC, will serve as the diocesan director of hospital chaplaincy, responsible for day-to-day coordination and operation of the ministry and bringing experience and enthusiasm to support the chaplains’ work.

The priest chaplains, deacons, religious, and lay people who will assume roles in the reorganized chaplaincy program serving God’s people in hospitals are listed below.

“We ask for your prayers for them as they begin or continue to undertake their duties throughout the Diocese of Camden,” said Deacon Jablonowski.


Hospital Cluster 1

AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center (Atlantic City)

AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center (Mainland Division-Pomona)

Betty Bacharach Rehabilitation Center (Pomona)

Father Robert Matysik, Chaplain/Sister Mary Frances Kyle, SSJ, Pastoral Care Associate (Atlantic City)

Shore Memorial Hospital (Somers Point)

Father Christopher Onyeneke, M.SS.CC., Chaplain

Cape Regional Medical Center (Cape May Courthouse)

Father Cosme R. de la Pena, Chaplain


Hospital Cluster 2

Cooper University Hospital Medical Center (Camden)

Father Gerald Cruz Antony, Chaplain/Mr. William Wisely, Associate Chaplain

Sister Mieczyslawa Koczera, LSIC, Pastoral Care Associate


Hospital Cluster 3

Virtua Hospital (Berlin)

Virtua Hospital (Voorhees)

Elmwood Hills Healthcare Center (Blackwood)

Father Glenn R. Hartman, Chaplain/Deacon Anthony Cioe, Associate Chaplain


Hospital Cluster 4

Kennedy Health System Hospital (Stratford)

Father Wilson Paulose, Chaplain/Deacon Thomas Fargnoli, Associate Chaplain

Kennedy Health System Hospital (Cherry Hill)

Father Irudaya Raj Santhanam, Chaplain/Deacon Thomas Fargnoli, Associate Chaplain


Hospital Cluster 5

Inspira Medical Center (Woodbury)

Kennedy Health System Hospital (Washington Township)

Father Tomy O. Thomas, Chaplain/Mrs. Anne Pirillo, Associate Chaplain


Hospital Cluster 6

Inspira Medical Center (Vineland)

Inspira Medical Center (Elmer)

Memorial Hospital of Salem County (Salem)

Msgr. Dominic Bottino, Chaplain/Deacon Arnaldo Santos, Associate Chaplain

St. Gabriel the Archangel, Carneys Point, Sister Carol Adams, CSJP, Pastoral Care Associate (Salem) Catholic Community of the Holy Spirit, Mullica Hill (Inspira Elmer)