Seattle — "If I could, I'd live here," Deacon Denny Duffell said with a faint smile as he waited, along with another member of St. Bridget Parish's Camillus group — a volunteer-based ministry focused on serving Catholic families at nearby Seattle Children's Hospital — for an elevator that would take them to yet another hospital floor. These clinical halls and sobering hospital rooms may not be anyone's conception of an ideal daily routine, but for those who know Duffell, it's an admission not far from the truth.
Duffell has been the Catholic chaplain at Seattle Children's since 1983, so this hospital, which serves families from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, must feel like a second home. Duffell and his team of about 10 professionally trained pastoral care volunteers offer a consistent, compassionate listening presence as well as prayer, Communion and sacramental preparation to patients and families in medical crisis. These families, often uprooted from their communities and facing emotional, financial and other pressures, have long been central to the ministry of St. Bridget Parish, a church located just a short walk from the hospital.