Chaplaincy Service

Illness of any kind can be a very worrying and isolating experience to have to endure – both for patients and their family. They may find themselves feeling different emotions and any number of thoughts and questions may be going through their mind. Working in such an environment can also be difficult at times for staff.

Whether people have a religious faith or none, they may want to talk with a member of the chaplaincy team. The chaplains are here to offer spiritual, religious and pastoral help and support to all who need and request it. Chaplains are part of the wider Health and Social Care team.

Chaplains visit hospital wards regularly and have time to listen and reflect. They are interested in people’s journeys and seek to support the hospital community by their presence and prayers. The service they offer is confidential and non-judgmental and is available to everyone, irrespective of faith or background. Chaplains are also available to:

  • Offer Christian prayer and sacramental ministry
  • Make contact with patients’ own faith communities/belief groups if requested
  • Offer regular times of worship on the hospital sites
  • Support staff and students in their work

As part of our educational remit, chaplains provide input to staff induction and are available to support nurse and medical education as requested. Supervised clinical placements and fieldwork opportunities are provided for students of ministry, and hospital visits and seminars are provided for other theological and medical students. Chaplains are also expected to continue in professional and vocational development.

Making use of the Chaplaincy Service:

The Chaplains are based in each hospital site. If people under the care of Belfast Trust in the community wish to talk with a chaplain, they can be put in touch with their local faith community/belief group for support. Chaplains are also available, as far as possible, to offer support to staff in the community.

Patient religious information: It is vital that,during the hospital admissions process, patients should be asked their denomination/religious affiliation/belief group and if they agree to a chaplaincy visit. This information should then be passed on to the appropriate chaplain, who will visit as part of the regular ward rounds. Without this information the Chaplains will not be aware of the person wishing to receive a chaplaincy visit.

Even if a patient does not declare any particular religious affiliation, it should not be assumed they will have no spiritual or pastoral needs. The services of chaplains should also be offered in these situations, where appropriate. Likewise, a patient may initially decline a chaplaincy visit but later change their mind. If anyone wishes the chaplain to visit at another time, they should ask a member of the nursing staff to make contact. Chaplains may also take referrals from clergy, family members, or healthcare staff.

Faith communities/belief groups: The chaplains hold a comprehensive list of contacts for local church communities and representatives of other faith communities/belief groups and are happy to make contact when requested. Chaplains are not permitted to pass on patient information to a third party without permission from the patient/family. There are also honorary chaplaincy volunteers for Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Humanist Jehovah’s Witness and Muslim patients.

On-call: In our acute hospitals - the Belfast City Hospital, Mater Infirmorum Hospital and Royal Victoria Hospital - there are chaplains on call twenty-four hours, seven days a week to provide pastoral, sacramental and prayer support in times of emergency and urgent need. Ward staff can contact the chaplain on call through Switchboard. Chaplains on the non-acute sites may respond to emergency calls but are not deemed to be on-call 24/7.

Prayer and Worship: Regular opportunities for prayer and worship are provided in the hospitals. In some hospitals the chaplains are supported by a team of dedicated volunteers who are available to assist patients in attending church services.

Services at Belfast City Hospital

Services of Worship in the Hospital Church (A Floor, Tower Block). Open 24 hours a day for private prayer and reflection.

  • Sunday at 9:30am United Church Service (and other times by arrangement)
  • Sunday at 8:15am and 11:15am  Celebration of Mass 
  • Monday-Friday 12:15pm Weekday Mass (except 1st and 3rd Wed in the Cancer Centre) 
  • Thursday 1:15pm Staff Prayer Group

Services of Worship in the Cancer Centre Quiet Room (Level One). Open 24 hours a day for private prayer and reflection.

  • Wednesday at 2:00pm Celebration of Mass (1st and 3rd Wednesday each month)
  • Tuesday at 12.30pm Christian Prayer and Reflective Time
  • Friday Lunchtime: Muslim Prayers

Services at Knockbracken Healthcare Park

Religious Services are held each Sunday in the Healthcare Park Church.

  • 9:00am Interdenominational service
  • 10:00am Catholic Communion service

Services at the Mater Infirmorum Hospital

Religious Services are available every week in the Hospital Chapel.

  • Sunday at 8:10am Celebration of Mass 
  • Tuesday at 12:30pm Christian Service of Prayer and Reflection 

Services at Muckamore Abbey Hospital

  • Sunday at 9:30am Interdenominational Service (conducted by a rota of chaplains)
  • Saturday at 10:00am Celebration of Mass
  • Other special services are arranged throughout the year, including Harvest and Christmas 

Services at Musgrave Park Hospital

Regular services are held in the Hospital Church. It is open every day from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

  • Sunday at 8:15am Celebration of Mass (Holy Days & Feast Days at 1:15pm or as arranged)
  • Sunday at 10:00am United service
  • The chaplains arrange special services as the need arises.

Services at the Royal Victoria Hospital

The Chapel, located on the Victorian corridor, is open every day for private Christian prayer and reflection. Regular Christian services are held in the Chapel.

  • Sunday at 8:10am and 10:00am Celebration of Mass (Feast Days as arranged)
  • Sunday at 2:00pm Interdenominational Church Service
  • Other prayers and services as arranged.

The Quiet Room, in the front foyer, RVH, near the shop, is open every day as a multifaith space for private prayer and reflection or simply as a place for quiet meditation. All are welcome to make use of this facility.

  • Thursday from 12:30-1:15pm Christian Prayer Time 
  • Friday Prayers for Muslims 1:30-2:30pm (Winter 1:00-2:00pm) 

Further information can be found on the Chaplaincy noticeboards outside the Quiet Room and the Chapel.

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Contact Details

Rev Derek Johnston
Lead Chaplain Belfast HSC Trust
1st Floor, East Wing
Royal Victoria Hospital,
Grosvenor Road
Belfast
BT12 6BA

Tel: (028) 9063 2045
Email: derek.johnston@belfasttrust.hscni.net