Spotlight on José Cedillo, director of Pastoral Care

Oct 24, 2017, 17:23 PM by KirstiAnn Clifford
José Cedillo with his wife, Ninfa, at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.
Rev. José Cedillo joined UTMB in May 2016 as director of Pastoral Care. An ordained bishop with the Church of God, Cedillo provides support for the spiritual, religious, emotional and value concerns of patients, families and staff. His department provides visitation, prayers, sacraments, inspirational reading material and scheduled worship services, as well as crisis intervention, and grief and bereavement support.

Prior to UTMB, Cedillo worked for more than 17 years at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He served as staff chaplain for pediatrics and palliative care, as well as manager of clinical chaplaincy programs in MD Anderson’s Department of Spiritual Care and Education.

A native of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Cedillo earned his bachelor’s degree in religious education from Lee University and his Master of Divinity degree from the Church of God Theological Seminary.

What does Best Care mean to you and how do you contribute?
Best Care means I strive to provide the appropriate pastoral care to every patient, every time I have an opportunity to do so. I contribute to Best Care initiatives by striving for excellence and compassion with every pastoral care referral, and by being available to our staff as well. As an ordained clergy and chaplain, my workplace is my congregation.

As a chaplain in a hospital environment, what are the most difficult parts of your job? The most rewarding?
I don’t necessarily see my duties in opposite poles, but in a continuum; there is always a lesson to learn about patients, staff and self. There are difficult situations which may include complex family dynamics, and those tend to be stressful. There are also rewarding moments when I can witness human suffering being relieved by spiritual practices and pastoral interventions.

How do chaplains support people who come from different religious backgrounds?
An effective chaplain is grounded in their own spirituality which is inclusive and comprehensive. God can’t be put in a box. We see people with diverse meaning systems as part of humanity and dealing with similar issues related to human suffering and seeking meaning. This is the basis of a chaplain’s compassion and empathy—not religious dogma or exclusive domains.

What inspired you to go into this line of work?
God, through people. Suffering is a human condition that I have also experienced and will continue to experience—hence, humans can journey with each other. This is the heart of chaplaincy. This is what keeps my inspiration.

Do you have any mantras you live your life by?
We are fellow sufferers with a common journey and a shared desired destiny.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I like to play musical instruments including the guitar, keyboard and drums, work on cars and other hands-on hobbies. I also like fishing and I love snorkeling.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
I try to be genuine and myself as much as I can, so I don’t care to have a secret life. I once recorded a musical video for a Spanish television program. When I show that video, some people have been surprised by my singing talent.

What’s something you always wanted to do but have not done yet?
Maybe like many other people, I would like to travel to exotic places in Africa, Indonesia, Europe or even Alaska. I have never been east of the Atlantic Ocean.