Healing Through Spiritual Care

With a warm smile and kind eyes, Reverend Lawrence Robles is often seen walking the hallways of Natividad wearing his signature black shirt and white clerical collar. “As a Spiritual Care Advisor, I’m here to connect with patients and their families,” he says. “I’m here to comfort, to listen, to pray, and to talk.”

Known to the Natividad family as “Father Lawrence,” Robles received his Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from CSU Fullerton and went on to graduate from the American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, Calif. In 2000, he took a position as an executive director with the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, and was later ordained as an Episcopalian priest.

Natividad Spiritual Care Advisors Reverend Lawrence Robles and Father Paul Botenhagen

Five years ago, Robles started working with Natividad Foundation’s nondenominational Spiritual Care program and says he was surprised by how much he enjoyed his new role. “I was coming from a pretty comfortable job at a church. It was all very manageable and there was no urgency,” he says. “At Natividad, I never know what challenges I’m going to face, or who I’m going to meet.”

One of those challenges, says Robles, is to overcome barriers enough to build a relationship so he can help patients and their families draw upon their religious or spiritual strength. “We’re often meeting people on what might be the worst day of their lives. Patients and their families can experience a wide range of emotions during hospitalization,” he says. “Being sick or injured can be an emotionally draining experience.”

Founded 30 years ago as a nonprofit 501(c)(3), Natividad Foundation’s donors have provided the program funding and resources for the Spiritual Care program at Natividad for decades. Natividad does not receive government funding for religious purposes.

“Without the generosity of our donors, Spiritual Care wouldn’t exist at Natividad,” says Jennifer Williams, President & CEO of Natividad Foundation. “The Foundation’s Spiritual Care Advisors provide important emotional and spiritual support for our patients and their loved ones. They offer a holistic approach to improving the health and well-​being of Natividad’s patients.”

Spiritual Care Advisors like Robles are available to help children, adults and families of all faith traditions explore spiritual questions and concerns that may arise during hospitalization. This important service helps patients and their families who are experiencing concern, anxiety, stress, sudden loss, or difficulties dealing with prolonged illness.

“If I’ve learned anything, it’s to always be prepared to be surprised,” Robles says. “It can be almost shocking when I find that our patients are giving me hope. You go into it thinking that you’ll be the one to give them hope and strength, but they end up giving it to you.”