Institutional Chaplaincy
Orthodox Church in America
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First Chaplain Commissioning Service celebrated in the Diocese of Mexico - 03/22/19

On the weekend of January 13, 2019, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, made his annual visit to the Diocese of Mexico together with His Eminence, The Most Reverend Benjamin, Archbishop of San Francisco and the Diocese of the West.  See the story on the OCA website here.  The hierarchs joined His Eminence, the Most Reverend Alejo, Archbishop of Mexico City and the Diocese of Mexico and area clergy and faithful in celebrating the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Ascension Cathedral on January 13th, and the Great blessing of water.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy Archbishop Alejo performed the Chaplain Commissioning Service for Reader Abraham Labrada-Santiago, his great nephew!   This is certainly a significant event because Reader Abraham is the first chaplain commissioned by the Diocese of Mexico.  He in fact translated the OCA Commissioning Service into Spanish for the service on Jan. 13th!

Reader Abraham is currently a staff chaplain at Providence Alaska Medical Center and hopes to provide education about health care ministry, especially with spiritual support and counseling at the End of Life for the clergy of the Diocese.  He has been an active presence in the Diocese of Mexico as well as serving as a chaplain.

Abraham Labrada-Santiago, a 2011 graduate of St. Tikhon's is the chaplain.  He traveled with then Bishop Tikhon in visitations to the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania from 2008-2011.  Back in Mexico he was blessed by Archbishop Alejo to write icons.  Reader Abraham painted several of the murals in the altar at the Holy Ascension Cathedral, where he returned to serve following seminary graduation.  He was diocesan communications for two years there, 2011-2013. 

Subsequently he began his Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in Providence Alaska.  There he met his now wife Anna.  They have two daughters Elizabeth and Alexandra.  He has been serving as a chaplain in Alaska, and is preparing for a certification review with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC).  Laypersons are commissioned as a step in the endorsement process.

May God bless the newly commissioned Chaplain Abraham, his wife Anna, and their family!

Archpriest Steven Voytovich, Director

Office of Institutional Chaplains


(Photos forwarded by Chaplain Abraham)

Introduction to ROI at COMISS - 01/13/19

The COMISS Network (Commission on Ministry in Specialized Settings), met in Alexandria, VA, Sunday and Monday, January 13 & 14.  Over 50 organizations (endorsers, credentialing bodies, organizations that employ chaplains, and academic institutions) have representatives attending this annual gathering.  The OCA has been a member since 2005.  Archpriest Steven Voytovich currently serves as a Member-at-large on the COMISS leadership team.

A focal point of COMISS gatherings each year are the presentations about developments in the greater pastoral care and counseling community.  This year's COMISS theme was: "Return on Investment (ROI) and Research: Tools for Advancing the Practice of Chaplaincy".

Patti Phillips, PhD, is the wife of Jack Phillips, who worked on developing "Return on Investment" (ROI) over decades.  Now a husband and wife partnership working wiht ROI, Dr. Patti Phillips presented on ROI during Sunday morning's session. 

Later, in the afternoon a panel of presenters spoke of their initiatives related to ROI.  Chaplains Doug Stewart (featured standing in the second photo) and Lynn Burgess, and Brigadier General Charles Ray Bailey (24th Deputy Chief of Chaplains of the United States Army from 2011 to 2015), shared their interactions with ROI.

Put simply, ROI is a way of communicating the value of chaplaincy, in language better understood by administrative roles in caregiving institutions.  This theory is applicable in many contexts.  General Bailey spoke about researching what our country may look like 20 years in the future, asking the question of how the church needs to be prepared for that cultural future.

(Story and photos by Archpriest Steven Voytovich)

Association of Religious Endorsing Bodies (AREB) meets in Alexandria, VA - 01/12/19

Endorsers from numerous faith groups gathered as the Association of Religious Bodies (AREB).  This gathering is the opportunity for endorsers to be in dialogue with one another before gatherings begin with institutional and military chaplain groups in the coming week.

This year endorsers worked on revising a document that spells out what endorsement is that credentialing bodies and others utilize.  Many other topics were addressed as well.