Coffee Break with Father Tony McAleese
6th December 2022
What do you do and why do you do it?
I am a priest who works in a parish and hospital. As a Chaplain I am firstly there for the patient and the family as well as the staff in the hospital. I provide a listening ear and if the person is open to it, I bring Christ to them, either in the person of the priest or with the Sacraments. I am here to assist in the best way that I can, usually by listening and supporting the patient, families and the staff.
How do patients and staff benefit from what you do?
Having that presence with them allows them the freedom to confided in someone who is impartial and who can keep them in their prayers. Spiritual care is of extreme importance as if we are not spiritual cared for then this can impact on other parts of our life.
Tell us about a typical day as a Chaplain
There is no such thing as a typical day. Every day I would print my list of patients and go around the wards starting with the newest patients and then following up with those whom I have already met. As we know, being in hospital is a huge change for someone. So, when I meet them, I start chatting with them at where they are at, i.e. they have just been admitted into hospital and then if they wish for a more in-depth chat or spiritual guidance or the sacraments then I would assist them with that. However, while this could be seen as the normal, there are times when someone needs a priest much quicker to help with the Last Rites of a loved one. These are usually flagged by a call from a nurse or ward sister to the priest on call.
If one of our patients was sitting with you right now what is the best piece of advice you could give them?
I always advise them to take one day at a time, to be assured that the staff want to get them home as quickly as they want to get home too, and if they are someone who prayers is important to them, I assure them of my prayers.
Tell us about the satisfaction you get from your role.
Being woke up throughout the night when on call is hard to see ‘job satisfaction’ but when you have been with a family and helped in the best way that you can and allowed them to find Christ in that meeting – then there is no greater satisfaction than that!
Tell us a little about your life outside of work?
I am an uncle and great uncle and love spending time with my family. However, I have a guilty pleasure of being a Big Disney Fan, and I love nothing more than visiting on my annual leave, when I can, Walt Disney World in Florida.