Chaplain Brent Powell joined St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1987 and has been the director of Spiritual Care Services for 29 years. He has been a volunteer supervisor over the Eucharistic Lay Ministry (ELM) program for most of his career at St. Jude.
The ELM is a specialized volunteer group that provides Holy Communion to Catholic patients, families and staff. These families are unable to attend Catholic Mass and would not receive the Sacrament if not for the ELM volunteers.
“Each volunteer is unique,” Powell said. “They are bound by their ministry, their love for humankind. They communicate well and make sure someone is always available to bring Communion. They get close to the patients and families. They empathize with their struggles and grief. They are full of compassion, vibrant personality, dedication to personal integrity and a sense of humor. I truly love being around them.”
Individuals wanting to be ELM volunteers undergo training in their diocese and must remain in good standing with their church. They represent their church in a holy and official capacity, bridging the church with the community.
Powell says he loves the diversity at St. Jude and in Memphis, Tennessee.
“We have patients, families and staff from all over the world,” he said. “Being in such a diverse environment teaches me so much and helps me understand the value of inclusion. Spirituality teaches me how God loves and embodies every person. I see God in every person I encounter.”
Powell and his wife love the outdoors and hiking in national parks. They spend their time traveling and with their family. Powell says his life-long hobby is photography and loves that it teaches him to appreciate and comprehend the world around him.