This week, October 20-24, 2014, marks the celebration of Pastoral Care Week around the globe. Since its formation in 1985, Pastoral Care Week has grown into a national and international celebration to promote the work of chaplains and pastoral care educators.

In this blog, we’ll explore the meaning of Pastoral Care Week through the inspirational story of Ann Pulliam, a Capital Caring volunteer who provides spiritual support for those individuals in care and their families. Pulliam was inspired to volunteer after her mother was in care at Capital Caring and is now completing training necessary to become a board certified chaplain. In an interview, Pulliam speaks with great passion for the spiritual care provided by Capital Caring.

“My journey towards chaplaincy began after the transformative experience of being a caregiver for my mother during her leukemia and then her death in hospice care in 2008,” said Pulliam, “Six months later, I was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer myself and went through 9 months of chemotherapy. I had three small children and a grieving father. During that time.. it solidified what I felt was a calling to minister others.. I wanted to pay it forward.”

Pulliam, a successful information technology professional, holds a Masters in Information Systems and Bachelors in Commerce from the University of Virginia. After her own life’s experiences with hospice and her own cancer battle, Ann said that she wanted to do something more meaningful with her life. And so she began to answer the calling to chaplaincy.

Ann emphasizes that ‘spiritual well-being’ – the theme of this year’s Pastoral Care Week – means different things to different people, something that Capital Caring respects and embraces.

“Spiritual well-being is defined by each individual. It certainly includes their connection to the divine but also their meaning or purpose in life, their connection to nature and beauty, love, and hope,” Pulliam continued, “Many times I’ve found the most important thing for me to do is simply listen.”

Ann Pulliam’s life has been called in a new direction in the six years since her mother’s passing in hospice care and her own battle with cancer.

Ann said, “I never thought in my life I would work as a chaplain, but the path seemed to open up for me and it feels like I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Life is a wondrous journey!”

Indeed, as Ann and chaplains across the country help others along their life’s journey each day, we celebrate the inspirational story of Ann and the work of each of Capital Caring’s dedicated chaplains this week… and every week.

Happy Pastoral Care Week!