How the Lab helped me in 2022

How the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab helped me in 2022

Jacquetta Gomes
Fire Chaplain
United Kingdom

The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab offered wonderful support to chaplains, including me, in 2022. This assistance is unique, helpful, informative and valuable. 



Starting in 2021 and ending in 2022, I participated in three support groups run by the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab. These were very beneficial. Each group ran for five, 75-minute sessions and were facilitated by non-chaplain professionals. The sessions started with quiet reflections and ended with readings or poems. They included about eight chaplains working in a variety of settings in various countries. I am still in contact with some members of these groups.

These support groups are described in greater detail in the Lab’s eBook Resilience for Spiritual Caregivers: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond. 

The last group I was in, which ended in January 2022, happened to be all women. We are from four countries and in different time zones. We all had excellent interactions from the first meeting and felt that we had a special connection. Nobody tried to dominate the group. We all wished to remain in contact. One of the members started hosting online meetings for members of this group to remain in contact as the Chaplaincy Encouragement Group. We meet fortnightly. I hope this will become a permanent support group.



CIL produces excellent eBooks, which I download and find very helpful. I share them with others when it seems they may benefit.

An eBook published in 2022 which was very relevant for me was Mapping Buddhist Chaplains in North America by Rev. Dr. Monica Sanford, Rev. Dr. Elaine Yuen, Dr. Cheryl Giles, Rev. Hakusho Johan Ostlund, and Alex Baskin. The eBook resulted from a 2020-2021 research project with four main goals: to understand how Buddhist chaplains are trained and where they work; to outline Buddhism’s unique contributions to the profession; to outline systemic barriers and how Buddhist chaplains overcome them; and to create a backdrop for future research and professional projects.



The Lab’s weekly newsletter introduces me to new contacts, events, information and organisations. 

In January 2023 the newsletter promoted the recently developed Buddhist Chaplain Association. This enabled me and others to attend two of the interest meetings. I hope to remain involved in this important initiative.



The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab offers informative and helpful webinars on a wide variety of topics, and engaging in the events has also led me to new contacts in the profession. If I am unable to attend in person, I find it helpful that these events can be watched online and that materials from presenters are often made available. I have learnt new skills which I use in my work as a fire chaplain.



The website is an invaluable and expanding resource. The many resources offered there have informed a new understanding of chaplaincy issues, which I share as a fire chaplain.

In 2020 I was the first chaplain from outside the USA to be included in the Chaplaincy Innovations Lab’s This is What a Chaplain Looks Like Project. This inclusion continued to be helpful in 2022. It enables those looking for Buddhist chaplains and fire chaplains to be aware of my role and see an example of a successful career in this work. (The Lab also previously shared a story about me published by the Westmoreland Gazette, when I was named the world’s first Buddhist woman fire chaplain.)

I am involved in the Buddhist Chaplaincy Peer Circle. I gave a talk to BCPC Buddhists Engaged with Emergency Services in December 2022, which was included in the newsletter in December 2022. A Q&A with Tricycle was also linked and can be read here.

Jacquetta Gomes is a fire chaplain in Kendal, England. She was recognized as the first female Buddhist fire chaplain by Sakyadhita International Association for Buddhist Women.

Jacquetta-Gomes chaplain in UK