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Hospital chapels becoming more inclusive

By Frank Flegel

05/04/2016

REGINA — Hospital chapels in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region are becoming more inclusive to reflect a more diverse society. Most religious symbols have been removed from the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre chapel to accommodate recent renovations, and a decision has yet to be made to determine what, if anything, will go up on the walls.

“We met with all the faith groups that are part of the affiliation agreement — Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and United, as well as representatives from other faiths — and shared what is important for all faiths,” said Jan Besse, executive director of Rehabilitation, Spiritual Care and Native Health Services. More meetings are to be held in May before any decisions are made.

A survey was undertaken by the health region to determine the future of its faith-based services. The results have yet to be compiled and presented to senior administrators of the health region, who are then expected to make some decisions particularly regarding displays of religious symbols within the multi-faith rooms/chapels. Concern had been expressed that attempts were being made to make the rooms more secular, but in interviews with the PM, Besse and director of Spiritual Care Mary Brubacher indicated that is not the intent.

The General Hospital multi-faith centre is used by all faiths. No religious symbols are displayed on the walls. Instead, the health region had artists present works on the themes of compassion and meditation. Seven of those works now hang in the room. Locked cabinets are provided for Roman Catholic sacramental articles, including the eucharist, but no scheduled regular religious services of any faiths are offered. The paintings were carefully hung so as not to interfere with a Muslim prayer corner. The space is sometimes used for memorial services.

The chapel at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre was renovated in January 2016 and a raised platform that was deemed a hazard was removed, new carpet installed and the room painted. The altar has been returned to its place, hymnals were also returned and regular weekly Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant services are offered, and a United Church communion service is also held “from time to time,” according to Brubacher. The chapel is also used for funerals and memorials, and Brubacher recently united in marriage a couple who work at the centre. The walls of the chapel are bare, but a familiar print of Christ hangs on the wall just outside the entrance.

The chapel at the Pasqua Hospital, formerly the Grey Nuns Hospital, offers weekly Sunday Roman Catholic masses, but no other faith communities offer regularly scheduled services. It has not undergone any recent renovations.

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