Spiritual & Religious Care

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Spiritual Care

Rooted in Healing and Hope

Spiritual & Religious Care

Spirituality can help you regain and maintain your health and cope with difficult experiences. It can help you find meaning, value and connection, especially during difficult times.*

Spiritual Care staff are integral members of Niagara Health inter-professional teams. They are members of the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care (CASC) and full time staff members are registered with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). They work with patients, families, staff and volunteers. You don’t have to be religious to benefit from spiritual care. We strive to support all types of spiritual expression: religious practice, personal relationships, artistic creation, a connection to nature and more.

We can help you:

  • Connect with your spiritual resources
  • Find meaning
  • Face anxieties and fears
  • Express feelings in your own way
  • Think through healthcare decisions
  • Participate in prayers or rituals

When to ask for Spiritual Care:

  • In response to a request from a patient, family member, or friend.
  • When faith, spirituality, meaning-making, or all of these together is obviously important.
  • When a patient, loved one, or staff member seeks a religious or spiritual ritual.
  • When a patient, their family members or everyone involved, is struggling with impending surgery, prognosis or diagnosis, death and dying, or significant loss.
  • When a patient or their family’s spirit seems troubled.
  • When the treatment team requires a religious or spiritual assessment of a patient.
  • When a patient is separated from or has few visible supports.
  • When a patient is close to death or has died.
  • When staff seek support when faced with workplace challenges.

Common misconceptions about spiritual care

“What if I’m not a religious person?”

You do not need to be religious to benefit from spiritual care. Spirituality is about finding meaning, value, and connection, especially during times of difficulty.

“Will you try to convert me?”

No. Spiritual Care Professionals respect your spiritual and religious beliefs. We are not here to change them.

“Is the spiritual care person a volunteer from a church?”

Spiritual Care Professionals are employed by Niagara Health. We are professionally trained to work with people in the hospital. After-hours and on weekends, part-time spiritual care staff are available to assist in urgent situations.

“Is spiritual care only for someone who is dying?”

No. Spiritual care at Niagara Health is for everyone seeking personal growth or coping with change, illness, or loss.

“Is spiritual care available for employees of the hospital?”

Yes. Spiritual care is available for all patients, families and staff.

Clinical Education in Spiritual Care

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an experience-based approach to learning in spiritual care which combines the practice of spiritual care giving with qualified supervision and group reflection. This dynamic and integrative education model assists persons in achieving their full potential in the practice of spiritual care. The program is of interest to:

  • healthcare professionals committed to the spiritual aspect of health
  • people who are drawn to spiritual care in a hospital setting
  • seminary students seeking field education experience
  • faith community leaders and lay pastoral caregivers seeking further skills and knowledge

For information regarding program dates and the application process contact Bob Tees, Robert.Tees@niagarahealth.on.ca , 905-378-4647, ex 44233.

Information for Visitors Representing Faith Communities

Faith Community leaders (ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, elders …) along with lay visitors designated by their Faith Community are welcomed, encouraged and provided with resources for their work as they care for their Faith Community members hospitalized within Niagara Health.

Registration of all “Spiritual Care Visitors” is carried out by the Spiritual and Religious Care (SPRC) Department. Applicants must complete the Registration Form; note that signing this Form indicates agreement with SPRC Standards. Applicants must also provide evidence in print of authorization – for instance (and minimally) a letter on official letterhead stating they are appointed to visit hospitalized congregants.

With Registration Form and Authorization in hand, the next step is to be scheduled for Orientation plus Photo I.D.. Applicants who primarily are to work at the St. Catharines Site are invited to e-mail Nancy Grodesky – Nancy.Grodesky@niagarahealth.on.ca – who works two Thursdays a month managing and conducting registrations. Applicants who primarily are to work at other NH Sites are invited to e-mail Bob Bond, Coordinator of SPRC – Robert.Bond@niagarahealth.on.ca, or else phone him at (905) 378-4647 ext 32385.

Explanation for asking about your religion

When being admitted, you will be asked whether you want your record to list a religion, and secondly a specific church or congregation.

This is for two reasons: foremost, the hospital intends to support and facilitate your religious requirements whenever possible (e.g. dietary, spiritual/ritual, medical). We also support and facilitate the work of your congregation’s visitors in attending to you.

It is, of course, completely within your rights not to declare your religion or church/congregation. Your choice in this matter will be entered, maintained for present/future reference and respected as part of the hospital information used to provide for your care while in hospital.

You may change this information at any time simply by notifying the Admitting Department.

When providing this information, please be as explicit as possible. If you belong to a specific church/congregation, please tell us!


* With thanks to the Spiritual Care Department, University Health Network, Toronto, for permission to adapt some of their communications.

To contact someone from Spiritual Care, contact a staff member listed below directly or call the Niagara Health switchboard at 905-378-4647 and ask for Spiritual Care.

Rev. Bob Bond, Coordinator of Spiritual & Religious Care


905-378-4647 x32385

Rev. Bob Bond, Coordinator of Spiritual and Religious Care Rev. Bob Bond has been a coordinator of Spiritual and Religious Care with the Welland County General Hospital and then Niagara Health since 1990. He is a husband, and father to three young adults. Within the community of Welland, Bob coordinates the Harvest Kitchen program and chairs Cordage Green Housing and Community Services. Bob is a Registered Psychotherapist – Certified Psycho-Spiritual Therapist.  He chairs the Ontario Alliance of Mental Health Practitioners. Since 2010, Bob has been an Assistant Clinical Professor [Adjunct] in the Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, teaching at the Niagara campus of the DeGroote School of Medicine. In April 2018, Bob was recognized with the Verda Rochon Award for Distinguished Service by the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care. Read about the honour here.

Bob Tees, Coordinator of Clinical Education in Spiritual Care


905-378-4647 x44233

Bob Tees, Coordinator of Spiritual Care and Religious CareBefore coming to Niagara Health in November 2015, Bob served for nine years as spiritual care provider and educator for the Brant Community Healthcare System (Brantford and Paris, Ontario). While there, Bob was involved in diverse areas including palliative care, mental health, critical care, emergency services and more. Earlier in his career, he worked with college and university students, the homeless, and as a Long-Term Care chaplain. He has extensive experience integrating music and art into spiritual care interventions and he believes beauty and creativity make a terrific contribution to healing and comfort. He is interested in clinical and professional ethics. His principle goal at Niagara Health is to lead the program for Clinical Education in Spiritual Care. This experience-based education program will expand and enhance Niagara Health spiritual support for patients, families, staff and volunteers. His education includes a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from McMaster University and an Master of Divinity from Regent College, Vancouver. His spiritual care training was situated in Chedoke Hospital, St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and Kitchener Interfaith Counselling Centre. He is a Certified Spiritual Care Practitioner and Supervisor-Educator with the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care (CASC), and he is a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO).

Donna Hollands-Hurst, Staff Chaplain


905 378-4647 x42103

Donna Hollands-Hurst, Staff Chaplain   Donna Hollands-Hurst is a chaplain who provides spiritual care to patients, families and staff on both Inpatient and Outpatient Mental Health Units at the St. Catharines Site. She has been with the Niagara Health since 2009. Prior to this, Donna was a member of the Chaplaincy team at Brock University. She also has several years’ experience teaching secondary students and adults (new Canadians). Her spiritual care training was completed at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton and she received her theological training at Regis College at Toronto School of Theology. She holds a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology. Donna is a certified Specialist in Spiritual Care with the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care (CASC) and has served as chair of this professional organization.  She is also a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO).

Al Vanden Boogaard, Staff Chaplain


905-378-4647 x43105

Al Vanden Boogaard, Staff Chaplain Al Vanden Boogaard has been a chaplain in health care since 2001, that year beginning his practice at the Hotel Dieu Hospital. In 2003, he accepted a part-time position with Niagara Health, St. Catharines General Site which transitioned to full time in 2005. He and his wife, Irene, live in Fonthill and have raised a daughter and two sons. Al holds a Bachelor of Arts degree as well as a Master of Divinity degree. He has been certified as a Specialist in Spiritual Care within the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care since 2007, and has practiced in all care areas within the Niagara Heath during his time here.  He is also a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO).  Currently, half of his time is allocated to the Walker Family Cancer Centre and half to Mental Health, with supplementary coverage in other areas of the hospital during crisis situations.

Niagara Health System