Words for Journey, Words for Justice

Pat Hoffman Author, Chaplain, Presenter

        Pat Hoffman is the author of four books, including AIDS and the Sleeping Church (Eerdmans 1995) and Ministry of the Dispossessed:  Learning from the Farm Worker Movement (Wallace Press, 1987), and numerous articles for the religious press, especially on the farm worker movement in the '70's and '80's and later on HIV/AIDS ministry. 

       Pat came to chaplaincy in her fifties after a career in ecumenical social justice work in Southern California.  Her sense of call to chaplaincy came out of a year as an AIDS Project Los Angeles volunteer visiting AIDS patients at a small hospital in Marina del Rey in western Los Angeles. The following year, Pat was working at Cal State Long Beach in the AIDS Research & Education Project.  But she couldn’t shake this sense of call to chaplaincy.  She inquired about finding a position as a Chaplain if she went through training.  She was told that as a laywoman her chances of getting hired were zero.  After another year Pat entered the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at UCLA Medical Center, where she completed two units.  The next year Pat completed two more units at St. Johns Medical Center, Oxnard, Ventura County, after she and her husband Cecil had moved to that area. 

          As soon as Pat finished her training, she was hired as the first Chaplain for AIDS Care, a secular social service agency serving Ventura County.  She also served three years as Chaplain at the Immunology Clinic at Ventura County Medical Center.  She feels deeply grateful to the gay community for their reception of her as a straight woman from the religious community to work with what was then a largely gay population. 

          These positions in the early 1990s were on the cutting edge of chaplaincy.  Finding no models for her work, she relied on basic principles from her cllinical training.  She implemented a Rogerian approach to ministry and daily asked, “How can our chaplaincy program create community for our clients and provide them the spiritual support they need?” She drew upon her contemplative practices for her clients and to sustain herself. 

          Following the closing of AIDS Care in 2000, Pat was hired as a Hospice Chaplain with Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association in Ventura County.  There she further developed a specialty in grief care, facilitating bereavement groups and working with individuals. 

          Pat and Cecil now live in Pasadena where she is writing, teaching and leading small groups.

 

 

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