Ireland’s Hospital Chaplains – Enduring Commitment throughout Covid-19.
26th Nov 2021
A new book has been published which was originally conceived as a tribute to one of Ireland’s longest serving hospital chaplains, our own Fr. Gerry Byrne (RIP). “Chaplains: Ministers for Hope” by Alan Hillard examines the range of chaplaincies from those working in hospitals, to prison, to armies, universities, homeless settings and beyond. This is a timely book, given how the role of chaplains has become even more important throughout the pandemic.
Hospital chaplains the length and breadth of Ireland have been a source of support, guidance and comfort since Covid came to these shores in March 2020. They, like everyone else serving on the frontline, had to learn about the importance of PPE, social distancing and handwashing. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our chaplain, Bishop Eamonn Walsh, and all hospital chaplains across Ireland, who have shown a deep compassion for our patients, their families and our staff. Their ongoing commitment and care throughout Covid-19 is testament to the vital role they have played and will continue to play in Irish healthcare.
Remembering Fr. Gerry Byrne
We could not talk about hospital chaplaincy in Ireland without remembering the late Fr. Gerry Byrne, who sadly passed away in May 2020. Fr. Gerry served as hospital chaplain at the Blackrock Clinic for an astounding 34 years, making him one of Ireland’s longest-serving and best-known healthcare chaplains. Throughout his time at the Blackrock Clinic, Fr. Byrne was known for his gentle faith, integrity and well-known sense of humour. He bore the sometimes heavy burden of hospital chaplaincy with grace, adopting the motto “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf” and was highly regarded by patients from all walks of life as well as the local community.
If you had the pleasure of knowing Fr. Gerry, you know he would want any tributes paid to him to be made to healthcare chaplaincy, a ministry that he treasured deeply. As quoted by his close friend, and now our chaplain, Bishop Eamonn Walsh, Fr. Gerry lived by the expression that “We can only be a team if we care for one another” and we are eternally grateful that he chose to be a part of our team.
If you would like to learn more about hospital chaplaincy in Ireland, including Fr Gerry’s own journey, ‘Chaplains: Ministers of Hope‘ is worth a read.