Pastoral Services

From pre-surgery prayer to pastoral counsel and worship services, our professional, caring ministers are always available to offer spiritual and emotional support to patients and families of all faiths.

Request a chaplain

To request a chaplain during your stay, call

717-531-8177 or ask your nurse to make a referral

Our chaplains support patients and their families by attending to their spiritual and emotional needs
Our chaplains support patients and their families by attending to their spiritual and emotional needs

Chaplain services


Our chaplains are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support patients and their families. We provide:

  • Spiritual, emotional, and sacramental support
  • Pastoral care and counseling
  • Empathic listening
  • Consultations on difficult decisions

The Pastoral Services department ensures that patients of all faiths have their spiritual needs met in accordance with their faith tradition.

Our Interfaith Chapel is open at any time for prayer or meditation. It is located near the south entrance of the medical center. The chapel is located near the main entrance of Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. See the campus map (PDF). We offer three regular services in the Interfaith Chapel:

  • Christian service: Sunday at 11 a.m.
  • Catholic mass: Tuesday at noon
  • Jumu'ah prayer service: Friday at 1:30 p.m

Our ministerial staff offers attentive care and counseling to patients and their families.

Meet our chaplains

Elizabeth Martin [Elizabeth Martin] , Director and CPE Program ManagerElizabeth Martin, Director and CPE Program Manager

The Reverend Elizabeth Watson Martin is Director of Pastoral Services at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. She is an ordained United Methodist elder and Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) certified supervisor, having supervised CPE programs for 20 years at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas, TX; Harris Methodist Hospital, Fort Worth, TX; Lancaster General Hospital, Lancaster, PA, and Hershey Medical Center.

In addition to the ministry of pastoral supervision, Elizabeth's professional experience includes nine years of acute-care hospital chaplaincy, two years of hospice chaplaincy, and three years of congregational ministry. She is a certified counselor with Resolve through Sharing, a grief support program for parents who have lost children through miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death. Elizabeth holds the Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas Tech University and the Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Theological Seminary. She completed Methodist study courses at Brite Divinity School.

Prior to entering seminary Elizabeth was a television news reporter in Lubbock, Texas, and Director of News Services at Dallas Baptist University, Dallas, Texas. A daughter of missionaries to South America, Elizabeth speaks fluent Spanish. She was born in Uruguay and lived in Peru from ages 6 to 15.

David Carnish, CPE SupervisorDavid Carnish, CPE Supervisor

David Carnish is Associate Manager of Clinical Pastoral Education in our department.  Prior to coming to Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, he has supervised clinical pastoral education programs at Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga, TN and Cone Health in Greensboro, NC.  He is a native of Milledgeville, GA. 

David is an ordained Baptist minister endorsed by The Alliance of Baptists.  He graduated from Valdosta State College with a B.A. in Philosophy and a Minor in Sociology.  He received his Masters of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY.  He has worked as a chaplain since 1990, serving in nursing home, community, hospice, religious and Level I Trauma hospital contexts.  He has also served as an interim pastor and associate minister with congregations. 

He became a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains in 1999.  He has training in critical incident stress debriefing with the International Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Foundation.  He became an ACPE supervisor in 2005, receiving his training in Columbia, SC and San Francisco, CA. 

Darlene Miller Cooley, Staff ChaplainDarlene Miller Cooley, Staff Chaplain

The Reverend Darlene M. Miller joined the full-time pastoral services staff in July 2016. Currently her clinical assignments include the Cardiac Care and Neurology departments. She brings a wealth of professional, pastoral, and life experience to the position. Before entering ministry she was an accomplished human resources specialist, Director of Equal Employment Opportunity, certified mediator and trainer with the U.S. Department of Navy and other government organizations.

She received her Bachelor of Art degree in Psychology from West Virginia State University, Institute, West Virginia and Master of Art degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

She is an ordained Baptist minister, has served as associate pastor at Harrisburg churches, and is presently serving as an associate pastor at the Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church in Harrisburg, PA. She is a graduate of Hershey Medical Center’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) intern and residency programs. Since 2015 she has served the HMC Department of Pastoral Services as PRN Chaplain Associate and has led the Martin Luther King services for the past two years.

Darlene is a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and has been blessed with traveling to many places. Most recently she traveled to Israel for a two weeks stay. Her most precious memory from this trip was the breath taking allure of the Holy land while walking through the stories she has learned since childhood.

Darlene is married to Michael Cooley, mother of three grown sons and one daughter in law and the grandmother of one beautiful granddaughter. She enjoys reading, sewing, walking, listening to music and supporting her football team, the Philadelphia Eagles.

David Simmons, Staff ChaplainDavid Simmons, Staff Chaplain

David serves as the chaplain for Palliative Care and Trauma Services. As part of the Palliative Care team, he comes alongside patients and families facing critical illness and end-of-life issues.  David's work with trauma services includes coordinating the work of the pastoral care department to provide 24/7 pastoral care to victims of trauma.

David is ordained as a Baptist minister and is credentialed through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.  A graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he holds a Masters of Divinity degree and recently completed the Doctor of Ministry degree at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.  David comes to Hershey Medical Center with 20 years pastoral ministry experience, having served congregations in Texas, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

David is a graduate of the Clinical Pastoral Education residency program at Hershey and conducted research in the area of emotional crisis and spirituality as well as pastoral care work to men in crisis.  David is married with three school age children and is an avid photographer and life-long Dallas Cowboys fan.

Stephen Payson, Pediatric Oncology Chaplain FellowStephen Payson, Four Diamonds Pediatric Oncology Chaplain

Stephen Payson is the Four Diamonds Pediatric Oncology Chaplain, dedicated to serving pediatric cancer patients and their loved ones during inpatient and outpatient care. He is an ordained minister with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Stephen completed his Master of Divinity degree at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Massachusetts in 1994 and was a 1985 graduate of Bowdoin College, located in Brunswick, Maine. After 20 years in congregational ministry, Stephen did his chaplaincy training in 2015-16 as a Chaplain Resident at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, where he served a variety of patients and families in the Pediatric Intensive Care and Pediatric Acute Care Units, as well as in the Surgical Intensive Care and Internal Medicine Units of the hospital. After completing his residency, Stephen served as the Chaplain Fellow for Pediatric Oncology and is excited to continue providing pastoral care to patients, families, and staff on the Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Unit as the first staff chaplain for pediatric oncology.

Stephen and his wife, Catalina, reside in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, and they have four adult children. For the first few years of their marriage, they lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Catalina’s native city and land. In addition to his work as a chaplain, Stephen also serves as interim minister of Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Middletown, PA.

The Interfaith Chapel at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is a place for prayer and meditation
Our Interfaith Chapel provides a sanctuary for prayer and meditation.

Quick links

Professional education

Learn more about our clinical pastoral educational opportunities