A fond farewell to our Research Leader, Cuong La

Excerpts from Cuong’s farewell speech.

As I stand before you today, filled with a mixture of emotions, I want to seize this opportunity to reflect on the remarkable memories we have created together. Our journey has been characterized by collaboration, growth, and a shared commitment to promoting spiritual care in healthcare.

One of the standout moments during our time together was the translation of academic evidence into a series of accessible advocacy tools and posters. From “What’s Spirituality?” to “What is Spiritual Care?” and “Spiritual Care Practitioners: Who are they?” to “Spiritual Care: Relevant and Responsive in Times of Crisis,” and now “Spirituality and Mental Health,” we embarked on a meaningful project that brought us closer. I want to give a special shout-out to Alicia Stafford, Jenny Greenham, and, of course, Cheryl Holmes for their invaluable contributions to this endeavor. Through our collective efforts, we have made these resources available to a wider audience, promoting understanding and awareness of the vital connection between spiritual care and mental health.

Another cherished memory is the active role I played in co-designing, facilitating, and evaluating the Spiritual Care Management Network (SCMN). Working closely with Christine Hennequin initially and later with Craig Exon, I had the privilege of collaborating with Spiritual Care managers and Coordinators nationwide, which proved to be an enlightening experience. The knowledge and insights gained from this process have been truly transformative, and I am grateful for the opportunities to grow alongside such talented individuals.

Our collective contribution to the continuous growth of scientific evidence on spiritual care in Australia and New Zealand is another milestone that deserves celebration. Through our dedicated efforts, we have informed the co-designed model of spiritual care in Australia, leaving a significant impact on the field. This achievement stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to advancing the understanding and practice of spiritual care.

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Sabrina Dong for her exceptional work in handling administrative tasks and ensuring the smooth functioning of our operations. Additionally, I express my appreciation to Reza Homan for his meticulousness in ensuring timely payment and for sharing his wisdom during our Monday meditations, which have greatly influenced my personal journey. Furthermore, I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to Bruce Rumbold, whose exceptional expertise and generosity as a mentor have played an integral role in my professional and personal growth.

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the unique bond we share as a team at SHA. Cheryl Holmes, with her visionary leadership, has fostered a cohesive and supportive environment that has brought us together. From individual growth to collegial connections and, above all, friendship, Cheryl has created an atmosphere where we can truly connect with one another. The memories of our shared learning, laughter, and camaraderie will forever hold a special place in my heart.

I want to express my deepest appreciation for the exceptional leadership of Cheryl Holmes, our esteemed CEO. Her guidance, wisdom, and unwavering support have been instrumental in shaping my growth in the field of spiritual care. Under her leadership, I have been empowered to reach new heights and embrace new challenges, and for that, I will be forever grateful. Cheryl’s influence on my professional journey will have a lasting impact, and I carry her lessons with me as I embark on new endeavors.

As I prepare to embark on a new chapter in my career, I want to express my deepest gratitude.

With heartfelt appreciation,

Cuong La