Spiritual Care

Through all stages of cancer treatment and survivorship, our staff at the Department of Spiritual Care is available 24 hours a day to provide emotional and spiritual support for adult and pediatric patients and family members.

Who we are

Dana-Farber chapel 

Spirituality can be a great source of strength, connection, hope, and meaning as you and your family cope with cancer and its impact on your lives.

We are here to listen and to help guide you, regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, by talking about your unique story, faith issues, ethical concerns, and ways to think about this life-changing experience. We can also help with other challenges you may be facing.

Our chaplains are clinically trained and represent a variety of perspectives, including Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and other faiths. We also work closely with chaplains from Brigham and Women's Hospital to provide continuity of care for our adult inpatients, and with Boston Children's Hospital for our younger inpatients.

Whether you are seeking emotional support, spiritual counsel, prayer, or a sacrament, you and your family are welcome to contact us before, during, and after treatment. You may also visit the Dana-Farber chapel whenever you need a place for quiet prayer, reflection, or meditation.

Services and programs we provide include:

  • Emotional and spiritual support
  • Meditation
  • Eucharistic ministry
  • Prayer, sacred readings, sacraments
  • Assistance in obtaining kosher meals
  • Faith-specific and interfaith services in our chapel
  • Guidance in addressing ethical matters
  • Contacts with community clergy at your request
  • Devotional materials, including literature, rosaries, yarmulkes, prayer rugs, and prayer shawls
  • Sacred texts in a variety of traditions and languages
  • "Shared Journeys," a monthly faith-sharing and support group for women
  • "A Tradition of Healing," a monthly group that explores the sacred texts of the Jewish people and searches for meaning in applying them to life's circumstances.
  • Spirituality Channel 31 – A television program produced at Dana-Farber, available to patients on site. Segments include religious services delivered by our own chaplains and other clergy, as well as faith-based musical performances and readings by fellow patients and family members.
  • "Multi-Faith Chanting Series," an experience of sacred chanting from a variety of spiritual traditions.

Religious and Spiritual Observances

We recognize and celebrate significant religious and spiritual observances of all traditions at Dana-Farber. If you would like to recognize a holy day, request a particular service or ritual, or find out what will be offered in the chapel, please contact the director of Spiritual Care and Education, Rev. Dr. Walter Moczynski, DMin, at 617-632-3908 or email walter_moczynski@dfci.harvard.edu.

Shared Journeys Women's Spirituality Group

Shared Journeys is an interfaith dinner and discussion series for women patients of Dana-Farber, providing a supportive, non-judgmental space for women to share their sacred stories. Each session focuses on a particular spiritual theme and includes a speaker or activity, followed by small-group discussion and sharing. There is no cost for this event; buffet dinner and parking are included. Space is limited, so please register by calling Dana-Farber Spiritual Care at 617-632-5778.

All sessions take place on Wednesdays from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

If you have questions, please call Rev. Dr. Walter Moczynski, Director of Spiritual Care and Education, at 617-632-3908.

Spiritual Care Staff

Rev. Dr. Walter Moczynski, D.Min
Director of Spiritual Care and Education 

Chaplain staff

Saima Ahmed
Rev. Yaroslav Nalysnyk
Rabbi David Paskin
Rev. Denis Sweeney
Larisa Waya

Spiritual Care staff at Dana-Farber's satellite locations

Rev. Gloria Carlson, DF/BWCC in clinical affiliation with South Shore Hospital
Connie Perlin, DF/BWCC at Milford Regional Medical Center


 

The Chapel

The greens, blues, and reds from the stained-glass window screen cast a contemplative light in the interfaith chapel. Located on the second floor of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, the chapel is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Rev. Dr. Walter Moczynski, Director of Spiritual Care and Education, sees the screen as "a metaphor for spiritual care at Dana-Farber: a prism that serves people of many different faiths, a symbol of peace and hope."

This quiet sanctuary is the culmination of the efforts of many individuals - patients and supporters who, over the course of several years, dreamed of and worked for the creation of a chapel. In spirit, it is the special legacy of a patient named Jeffrey R. Forbes.

During his 13-year battle with cancer, Forbes offered himself as a spiritual counselor to many fellow Dana-Farber patients and their families. His dream of a chapel inspired the support of the Friends of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and of his family, friends, and colleagues.

At the centerpiece of the chapel is the stained-glass screen, which depicts the elements of water, air, fire, and life. The stained glass was designed by Robert Frei of Emil Frei, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri. Cherry-wood cabinets and upholstered chairs contribute to the room's warm and welcoming atmosphere.

The chapel is always open as a place of quiet reflection, prayer, or meditation for patients, their families, and medical staff. Prayer requests for a patient or loved one may be left in the chapel's prayer box.

Prayer rugs, shawls, and meditation cushions are also available, and we occasionally hold meditation, interfaith prayer, and faith-specific services in the chapel. The dates and times of these services may be found on the bulletin board directly across from the chapel entrance. Everyone is welcome to participate.

Chaplain Intern Program

Dana-Farber's Chaplain Intern Program is accredited through Harvard Divinity School. This field education placement offers theological students the opportunity to experience hospital chaplaincy as they work with pediatric and adult patients and their families.

Students may apply for our intensive, full-time international intern exchange program, held each summer, or our academic-year, part-time intern program, which runs from late September to early May.

Program objectives

Throughout this field education placement, students will develop a learning agreement and reflect upon their personal, pastoral, and professional competence in the following areas:

Personal

  • Awareness of, and ability to express, one's religious/spiritual history
  • Ability to incorporate authority in relationships
  • Awareness of the importance of self-care

Pastoral

  • Awareness of the many dynamics of ministry
  • Ability to provide pastoral leadership within an institute
  • Ability to integrate theology into pastoral care

Professional

  • Basic understanding of chaplaincy
  • Ability to understand the many functions of a pastoral care department
  • Ability to work with a multidisciplinary team
  • Awareness of the many ethical issues in a medical setting

Prerequisites

The following are prerequisites for Dana-Farber's Chaplain Intern Program:

  • Openness to learning in a demanding outpatient and inpatient clinical setting
  • Respect for, and willingness to minister to, people of other religious/spiritual traditions
  • Course work in pastoral care (helpful, but not required)
  • Full or part-time enrollment at Harvard Divinity School, Boston Theological Institute, or other accredited theological schools
  • Agreement to a criminal background check and to allow us to contact three references

Program details

Program director and supervisor

Rev. Dr. Walter V. Moczynski
Director of Spiritual Care and Education
Board Certified Chaplain
Harvard University Field Education Supervisor

In-house requirements over 26 weeks or during two months full-time in summer
  • 10-15 hours per week of patient ministry and programming of interfaith services (35-40 hours per week in summer)
  • Six on-call overnights at Brigham and Women's Hospital during the summer or the academic year
  • Minimum of three hours of individual and group supervision per week
Written requirements
  • Six verbatim
  • One theological reflection paper
  • Weekly progress reports
  • Mid-term and final evaluation
  • Weekly journal (optional)
  • Article for quarterly publication, Stained Glass Reflections (optional)
Time off

Time off must be discussed and agreed upon with the director prior to the start of the program.

How to apply

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all available slots are filled. Please follow the steps below:

  1. Download the application. 
  2. Send your completed application and resume via fax or mail.
  3. Upon receipt of your application, we will contact you for an interview. (Interviews take place in February for the summer program and in April for the academic year program.)

For more information, please contact:

Rev. Dr. Walter V. Moczynski
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
450 Brookline Ave..
Boston, MA 02215
Phone: 617-632-3908
Fax: 617-632-5820
Email: walter_moczynski@dfci.harvard.edu 

Contact Us

For inquires about our services, programs, or to speak to a chaplain, contact:

Rev. Dr. Walter Moczynski, Director of Spiritual Care and Education
By phone: 617-632-3908
By pager: 617-632-2337, ID# 41893
By email: walter_moczynski@dfci.harvard.edu 

Or you can reach the on-call chaplain via pager at: 617-632-2337, ID# 41546

 
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