Comiss Network: The Network
on Ministry
in Specialized Settings

COMISS Medal Presentation:  George Fitchett, PhD,

COMISS Annual Forum, January 14, 2019, Crystal City Marriott at Regan National Airport

The COMISS Medal is the highest award given by the Network on Ministry in Specialized Settings. George Fitchett is the 12th person to be honored with the COMISS award. The first recipient, in 1988, was Henri Nouwen, who received the award at Dialogue 88 in Minneapolis. The purpose of the medal is to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the international spiritual and pastoral care and counseling movement – to ministry in specialized settings. Erik Erikson was the second recipient in 1992.


William R. Bradley, then Professor of Art at Pennsylvania State University, designed the medal.

The original casting was for 24 medals, at a cost of $500 each. The medal is held by a red ribbon, which was to hang from the recipient’s neck like the Nobel Prize. [No lack of grandiosity here!] Since COMISS had no money, the artist was paid out of the newly established James Anderson Fund.


Today’s recipient, George Fitchett, fulfills the original purpose of the award by his more than 40 years of contributions to scholarship and research in the area of healthcare chaplaincy, chaplaincy research and evidence based practice, spiritual assessment, and spirituality and cancer. He is the editor/author of 6 books and over 125 peer-review articles and chapters. In addition he has been the principal investigator or co-PI for over 20 funded research projects. Recent grants with co-PI Wendy Cadge include a Luce Fund for Theological Education grant for assessing and reimaging chaplaincy education and a Templeton Foundation grant for training research–literate chaplains.


George has received at least a dozen awards including being honored by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (Helen Flanders Dunbar award, 2014), the Association of Professional Chaplains (Anton Boisen Professional Services award, 2006), the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (Outstanding Colleague award, 2017), as well as by the COMISS Commission on Research in Pastoral Care and Counseling award (with Laurel Burton and Abigail Sivan, 1997).


George is an ACPE Certified Educator, and an APC Board Certified Chaplain.


Since 1975 he has been employed by the Rush University Medical Center, Department of Religion, Health and Human Values, Chicago, Illinois.


He is a graduate of Rutgers (B.A.), the University of Chicago (M.Th. and D.Min.), and the University of Illinois at Chicago (PhD).


It is my pleasure, George, to present you with the COMISS Award Medal.


--Russell H. Davis, PhD

President, COMISS: The Network on Ministry in Specialized Settings