by ROWENA OREJANA
North Shore Hospital in Auckland has a new multi-faith centre for patients and their families and friends.
The Waitemata District Health Board opened the centre on December 1. It is seen as a place of solace and refuge for those who may be absorbing difficult news or giving thanks for healing.
Board chief executive Dr Dale Bramley said that until now there had been no hospital space that catered to spiritual needs.
The facility, Spiritual Centre, Ahurewa, is designed to cater for people of all faiths and includes two seminar rooms, a chapel and a prayer room for people of other faiths.
“It’s a place of refuge. It’s a place where people can contemplate. It’s a place where people can give thanks as well,” Dr Bramley told NZ Catholic.
He said the DHB’s statement of purpose is for the relief of suffering. “Suffering is much more than physical suffering. This is about us trying to help people through that journey and setting aside a place to do that in our busy hospital.”
Auckland Catholic Bishop Patrick Dunn and Auckland Anglican Bishop Ross Bay dedicated the chapel to God in honour of St Luke, the patron saint of physicians.
Bishop Dunn thanked Dr Bramley and board chairman Dr Lester Levy for providing the space for the centre. “Let’s pray that this chapel will be a place of refuge, a place of peace where our taha wairua can be nourished and healed and find strength for the jour ney,” Bishop Dunn said.
Along the hallway are paintings representing different faiths. There is one of Buddha, another of Ganesh as well a painting of a man in front of the Wailing Wall beneath the Ark of the Covenant.
The project was funded by more than $575,000 in donations to the Well Foundation, the DHB’s official fundraising body, and to the DHB directly. A key feature is a large stained-glass window setting from a more-than-100year-old church in Pennsylvania.
A Madonna and child sculpture created by Bernard Makoare was given by Ngati Whatua as well as two antique tukutuku panels. The Madonna was carved from wood while the child is a Maori representation carved out of whalebone, traditionally used as a material for weapons.
Auckland Catholic diocese donated an icon of St Luke created by sacred art artist Michael Pervan.
“This is a facility that all people are welcome to make use of, either by attending services or visiting for some quiet time alone. We are incredibly grateful to all those who have supported this project,” said Dr Bramley.