Note to Eager Pastoral Care Studentfrom local religious institution of higher learning who wandered into the hospital room yesterday where I was meeting a parishioner for the first time:
the role of hospital chaplains is to a)ascertain whether or not the person in the hospital is receiving care from his/her own faith community b)provide pastoral care for those currently not receiving care from his/her own faith community c)provide resources for pastors in the community so they can provide the main pastoral care for the people of their faith community.
Making yourself part of the conversation failed on all three counts.
Please, when you see a pastor in the room, simply introduce yourself, ask if you can provide any assistance, and then leave. Move especially quickly when said pastor points out that she has just been introduced to said parishioner and is getting to know her.
The art and craft of pastoral care includes knowing when you are not needed or wanted.
Here endeth the lesson.