Hospital chaplain marks 25 years of helping communities in tough times

Reverend Rufin Emmanuel from West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Reverend Rufin Emmanuel from West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust - Credit: West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

A Suffolk hospital chaplain has been marking 25 years of helping people and communities, often in the toughest hours of their lives.  

Reverend Rufin Emmanuel is marking the quarter of a century since he was ordained as a priest.  

He currently works for the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust; which includes West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket Community Hospital as well as community services across Suffolk. 

Rev Emmauel has been with the trust for the past year, having previously worked at other hospitals in and around London and Essex.  

“We are able to offer support 24/7, and have good relationships with all faiths and denominations, and those who do not express a faith – our colleagues and patients know we are open to everyone,” he said. 

“I thank God for the grace I received to serve people. My passion is to care for people, to serve them one to one and offer a listening ear and pastoral and spiritual support. 

“I am on a journey with them and alongside people when they are in great need. As it says in the gospels: ‘When I was sick you visited me'.” 

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His latest posting is very different to where Rev Emmanuel started his career all those years ago.  

He was ordained in July 1996 in Lahore, Pakistan, and served in two different parishes as an assistant parish priest before coming to England 20 years ago. 

He joined West Suffolk at one of the toughest times for the trust; right at the start of the pandemic. 

Rev Emmanuel said it had been "a remarkable journey” for his team during this time.  

His team now is now made up of 10 people, including two full-time chaplains and a number of part-time volunteers.  

Serving the community through faith is something that runs in the family of the Reverend.  

His wife Timnat, with whom he has three children, is due to be ordained as a deacon on September 11 this year and ordained as a priest in June 2022.  

Looking ahead to the next quarter-century, Rev Emmanuel’s priority is helping the trust’s patients and staff, and the local community, to start to recover from the pandemic and the challenges this winter may bring.  

He is also looking to develop the chaplaincy and its multi-faith team as plans for a new hospital in Bury St Edmunds take shape. 

“This is an exciting and challenging time, and we are involved in early discussions about what the chapel could look like in the new hospital,” he said. 

“There are wonderful people around me – it says in the Bible that you never get tired by doing good work.  

“I believe that because people see the good work we do they come to us and we make sure we are visible and available to everyone.” 

Rev Emmanuel’s service has been praised by local religious leaders.  

The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich said: “Congratulations on the 25th anniversary of your ordination. You have been a source of comfort and inspiration to many through your priesthood, and undoubtedly a channel of God's healing balm and grace.  

“We are delighted to have your gifts and skills in the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. May God continue to richly bless you as you follow His way ever more nearly.” 

Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Joe Hawes, said: “The clergy and people of St Edmundsbury Cathedral rejoice with the Rev Rufin Emmanuel on the silver jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood.  

“We send him our warmest good wishes and prayers in the hope and expectation that his ministry will continue to be a blessing to the Church and to the world. 

“We rejoice in our deepening links with West Suffolk Hospital and commit ourselves to continue to support the ministry of the chaplaincy.” 

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