Pastoral Care at UTMB

 Our mission is to provide for the spiritual needs of our patients (and staff) in a manner respectful of their personal beliefs.  We do this by chaplain/priest visits; prayers, sacraments, providing inspirational reading material, seeing that Bibles are available, scheduled worship services, liaison with the local faith communities.  We offer crisis intervention, grief and bereavement support and staff support as well.

Chaplain Visitation

The Pastoral Care Department provides support for the spiritual, religious, emotional and value concerns of patients, families and staff by providing appropriate pastoral resources, directly or through referral.  Referrals to the Pastoral Care Department will be received on behalf of any patient, family or staff and can be made by any person recognizing a need for spiritual care. A request for a chaplain visit* for a UTMB hospital patient, their family, or visitors can be made by contacting the Pastoral Care office.

*Please note that there is a different chaplain assigned to visit a state offender.

Scheduled Services

Currently there are no scheduled services at UTMB. 

Spiritual Reading Materials

English and Spanish reading material is available to UTMB hospital patients, family, and visitors by visiting the Pastoral Care office, the meditation chapel, or by calling to request it be delivered to your hospital room. Free interfaith and limited denominational literature is available.

Pastoral Care Staff

John W. Riley   

The Reverend John Riley came to UTMB in January, 1999, from The Methodist Hospital in Houston, where he had been a staff chaplain for fifteen years and for one year was the Acting Director of their Department of Pastoral Services and Education.  At UTMB Chaplain Riley serves as the director of the Department of Pastoral Care, while also having chaplain responsibilities for the Surgical and Burn Intensive Care units and the Physical Rehabilitation in-patient unit. 

Chaplain Riley is an ordained United Methodist minister.  He is a Board Certified Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains.  He was born and raised in Texas.  He is married, and he and his wife have two grown children.  

Kathy Sapp Ozenberger   

Reverend Kathy Sapp Ozenberger, M.R.E., (Chaplain II) is chaplain for Pediatrics, Maternal Child Health, Medical Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Services. She holds degrees from Judson College in Marion, Alabama and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  Rev. Ozenberger completed two years of Clinical Pastoral Education at Memorial Healthcare Systems and St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. She is an ordained Baptist minister and holds Associate Certification in the Association of Professional Chaplains and is a Clinical Member in the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education. 

Rev. Ozenberger is recipient of a 2006 Martin Luthur King, Jr. Service Award.  Rev. John W. Riley, M.Div., B.C.C. nominated her saying, “…Kathy was the first person hired by UTMB as a staff chaplain, coming to UTMB in February, 1997 (prior to that time chaplains at UTMB were denominationally-based)…Kathy’s efforts are often “behind the scene” and unsung, nevertheless they are at the heart of UTMB’s commitment to promote diversity, to eliminate barriers that lead to second-class citizenship, and to reduce conflict that may arise because of our differences.”

During the Fall of 2001 Rev. Ozenberger received a President’s Cabinet Award for Project HEALing, Hope and Encouragement Around Loss. The goal of this project is to provide an organized plan for providing a continuum of care for patients in the final stages of life, as well as for their families and friends. President’s Cabinet funding will be used to develop a bereavement training program for caregivers who work with the bereaved, provide cards so that caregivers can send sympathy notes, and make available information on community support programs for families experiencing a recent loss-all vital efforts toward creating a caring environment at UTMB.

TDCJ Pastoral Care

The TDCJ chaplain’s office’s ministry is dealing with hospitalized offenders with illness, surgery, and the terminally ill offenders.  They contact families of the offenders when they are on the Serious/Critical list and talk with them on a daily basis.

Families and staff may contact the TDCJ Chaplain’s office by calling (409) 772-6191 or leave a message at (409) 772-6108. The Chaplain’s office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Please contact the office above if you are interested in becoming a volunteer in the TDCJ hospital.

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