by ROWENA OREJANA
The Waitemata District Health Board is building what will probably be the last chapel in the secular New Zealand public health system — at a cost of almost $1.4 million.
The chapel, also called a spiritual centre, is expected to be completed by June next year. The Waitemata DHB is putting $1 million into the project while the Well Foundation, the DHB’s official fundraising body, has already raised $350,000.
WDHB chief executive officer Dale Bramley said he feels very strongly that a space in hospital be set aside for prayer and contemplation.
“Hospital is a sacred place. I tell that to our staff, because people die in our hospitals every single day. People leave this world into the next every day. It’s a sacred space,” he said.
The chapel will be around 100 square metres, which will be large enough to accommodate the growing needs of visitors, staff and patients, including those who need to attend services in wheelchairs and hospital beds.
The chapel will be on level 3 of the main North Shore Hospital tower block, with an outlook towards Lake Pupuke and Rangitoto Island.
Dr Bramley said it will be a multifaith space. “We have a multi-faith entrance into the chapel where we have a Muslim prayer room in the front as well, because many of our staff are Muslims,” he said.
He said the response of the community was huge. One man donated $300,000 towards the construction.
“He’d been at Starship Hospital and he couldn’t find a place to pray for his child,” Dr Bramley said.
Dr Bramley said the DHB bought four-metre high cathedral windows from a deconsecrated American church,
on eBay. The windows were bought from funds donated by the community for the purpose.
Cathedral windows from a deconsecrated American church will be a feature in the new hospital chapel.
“I picked the archangels because whether you’re Jewish, Muslim or Christian, in our sacred traditions are angels. And they would have a pride of place in the centre of our chapel,” he said.
He added, the chapel would be dedicated to St Luke. “We are looking at the good bishop to donate the icon of [St Luke]. He cannot be outdone by his counterparts,” he said half-jokingly to Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn.
Dr Bramley said the Anglicans are carving the altar cross while the Methodists gave a 100-year-old Bible. A Ngati Whatua master carver has created a Maori Madonna and child while the Jewish community is gifting prayer books.
“The Methodists and Presbyterians gifted a 150-year-old kauri altar and lectern. The Orthodox are giving an Orthodox cross,” he said. “So there you go, Bishop Pat.”
He said the DHB will invite the heads of the different religious denominations to bless the chapel.