Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling

Spiritual Care Week 2021: You Helped Me Feel Whole Again

By Veronica Martinez-Gallegos

Veronica Martinez-Gallegos (third from right) with a former group of CPE chaplain students

As a CBF-endorsed chaplain and Clinical Pastoral Education (“CPE”) Educator, CBF has impacted my ministry in ways I never imagined. After two decades in congregational ministry, my horizons expanded since I completed my CPE internship. After a few days through the hospital corridors, my focus changed and I found myself on a path of discernment of my chaplaincy pastoral vocation. 

On November 15, 2016, I was endorsed by the CBF Council on Endorsement as a chaplain.

Undoubtedly, CBF helped me advance in my goals, first as a chaplain and then as a CPE Educator. CBF has impacted my ministry by affirming and validating me in my pastoral calling. As an Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (“ACPE”) Certified Educator, I can accompany my chaplain students in their pathway of pastoral care discernment. And as a health care chaplain, to provide care that helps patients access their own spiritual resources to find meaning and comfort during periods of illness.

I will never forget *Mrs. Luna, a patient I met during my first pastoral visits in my chaplaincy career. Mrs. Luna arrived at the hospital with no desire to live. She did not want to speak to anyone for several days. She had been ill for several years, and isolated from her family. Her relatives brought her to the hospital against her will. Mrs. Luna had a serious bacterial skin infection known as necrotizing fasciitis. So, one of her legs had to be amputated to save her life.

At the initial visit, she cried. “I have a lot of anxiety and pain,” she told me. I asked her if it was physical pain, she replied, “No, it is an emotional pain.” “Tell me about your pain,” I said. For the next hour, Mrs. Luna told me her story. I spent time with her during the next few days, sometimes talking about her life story and other days accompanying her in silence.

One of those days, she told me, “I haven’t been to church in years. My mother was Catholic, my father Lutheran, and they never agreed where to take us. I know that prayer helps me connect with God.” “You want us to pray?” I asked her. It seemed as if a ray of hope was suddenly born in her.

After several days, Ms. Luna was transferred to a rehabilitation center. Before she left, her words were: “You helped me feel whole again.” She was referring to the loss of her leg, and by connecting with God, she found meaning and comfort. Feeling whole again was something significant to Ms. Luna. She experienced that her story was heard and that she was accepted as a whole person.

 As a Latina woman in ministry, the endorsement I received from CBF helped me feel whole again to continue advancing in my life purpose.

*For the patient’s privacy, the name has been changed.

Rev. Chaplain Veronica Martinez-Gallegos is a CBF-endorsed chaplain. She has her M.Div. BCC and is an ACPE Certified Associate Educator. She serves as the Assistant Director in the Department of Spiritual Care and Education at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, N.C.

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