Chaplain: A sailor in the Ocean

Written by Guillermo Cruz Hernandez

For me, CPE was one simple thing- a boat in a big ocean. This image was in my mind when I entered a room of an elderly woman who was immensely proud to be a sailor for the US Navy. She was struggling with loneliness at the hospital, and I had a beautiful conversation with her. I planned to chat for five minutes, and I ended up spending almost fifty minutes with her because she felt so lonely.

I learned from this conversation that I was a sailor, and she was the ocean. At that moment, I realized that every patient is an ocean because every word, every sentence, every tear of pain, or every smile of joy are different waves that touch and lead the boat of my spirituality. I learned from her that every patient is an ocean. Some patients have islands inside of them to host support from their church communities; others have more boats that they call family or friends.

Sometimes I was the only boat in that ocean. As a chaplain, I was able to navigate in different oceans, sometimes on a sunny day after a good result of an operation or diagnostic test, and sometimes I navigated in a thunderstorm after bad news. I realized that I just want to be a simple sailor that navigates in a sailing boat. As a chaplain, I need the virtue of patience and flexibility to be led by the wind of the Holy Spirit. I just need a seaport or to continue to navigate in the unending ocean following the instruction of the carpenter of Nazareth, "Duc in altum (put out into the deep).” 

Guillermo Cruz was a Summer 2023 CPE Intern at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System, San Antonio, TX. He attends Assumption Seminary as a seminarian for Archdiocese of San Antonio and is studying at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX.