Lora Salley’s internships prepared her for Word and Service chaplaincy
Lora Salley (2020, MAM) recently finished her internships—at a church and as a hospital chaplain—but she can still be found walking the hallways as a registry chaplain as she plans her future as a deacon (Ministry of Word and Service).
Her recently completed internships have both played a role in her discernment as she looks toward full-time chaplaincy. It was rewarding to integrate the two experiences, she said, and both experiences were more than she hoped for. Field education offered her an opportunity to share both her gifts and knowledge gained at seminary, she said.
“What a blessing it is to put theory and theology into practice, to put into action one’s love of God and love of neighbor, to be a public church,” she said. “This experience has prepared me for professional ministry. It’s given me what I need to move forward in the process of becoming a board-certified chaplain.”
Salley was a diaconal intern at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square and chaplain resident at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.
In the congregation, she facilitated conversations about death and dying, which included leading a book group on Being Mortal and sessions about how to talk about end of life issues with loved ones. The onset of the COVID pandemic meant doing most things online. “I was pleasantly surprised at the openness to these difficult conversations that happened despite being held via Zoom,” she said.
Chaplain work, although done in person, was also full of change. She spent much of her time with patients and families facing serious health and end of life issues. She was also able to integrate her social work experience in child development with her chaplaincy in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and in providing spiritual care to adults who are unable to communicate verbally.
“One of the parts of my residency I loved was working in the NICU. Though it’s difficult to see these littlest humans in the hospital, often connected to machines to be able to survive, it is also a joy to journey with the babies and their families as they grow and to see them be able to go home,” she said. “I provided spiritual care to babies—holding them and learning about what they like, as well as what helps them be calmed and soothed. I learned how to listen to and have a pastoral conversation with them by paying close attention to the baby’s expressions and physical cues.”