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Hopkins Names First Full-Time Pediatric Chaplain

April 01, 2013
Matt Norvell

David Matthew (Matt) Norvell has been named Pediatric Chaplain for the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. At Johns Hopkins, he is the first full-time chaplain with a primary focus on pediatrics. The new chaplaincy is endowed by the Bunting Family Foundation.

“This is truly a historic moment for our institution,” says Ty Crowe, director of the Department of Pastoral Care at Johns Hopkins Hospital, “and represents a new kind of spiritual support and spiritual care for our ill children, their loved ones, and our staff.”

Because there has been no pediatric chaplain until now, says Norvell, “there has been a gap in our ability to professionally provide spiritual support to this vital aspect of individuals’ lives. We are hopeful the presence of a Children’s Center chaplain will help bring spirituality closer to the surface as we consider the kinds of care and support children and their family might need to be ‘healthy.’”

Since 2008, Norvell has been a member of Hopkins Children’s Center’s Harriet Lane Compassionate Care program, which offers comprehensive management of the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of children with life-limiting conditions. As bereavement coordinator and palliative care support specialist for Hopkins Children’s Center, Norvell has coordinated bereavement support services for parents and siblings, coordinated and facilitated parent and sibling support groups, and coordinated the annual Tribute Service in memory of young patients who have died. As a member of the hospital’s palliative care team, he has attended palliative care rounds and patient care conferences, facilitated staff debriefing sessions, and provided bereavement support to staff members.

With an undergraduate degree in English and Philosophy from Baylor University and a Masters of Divinity from Duke Divinity School in 2001, Norvell was ordained by Watts Street Baptist Church in 2002. He served as chaplain resident at the Durham Veterans Affairs Hospital in Durham, NC, and then for five years as the youth and family pastor for Grace United Methodist Church in Gaithersburg, Md.

With a growing interest in chaplaincy, Norvell enrolled in Johns Hopkins Hospital’s clinical pastoral education program in 2007 and served as a chaplain resident in pediatrics. Completing his residency, he joined Hopkins Children’s Center in 2008 serving in the role of palliative care and bereavement support. Today, he nears completion of a second master’s degree in pastoral counseling at Loyola University in Baltimore.

Hopkins Children’s Harriet Lane Compassionate Care program