History of Community of Hope International

In 1994, Rev. Helen Appelberg, Assistant Director of Pastoral Care at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, was appointed to create a training course for people to become lay chaplains. With support from staff chaplains and advice from Esther de Waal, an authority on Benedictine spirituality, a twelve-week curriculum was established. Rooted in the ageless principles of The Rule of Benedict and sustained by clinical pastoral practices, the Community of Hope was born. 

Our Mission

Creating communities, steeped in Benedictine Spirituality, to serve others through compassionate listening.

What We've Achieved

As Community of Hope classes were being taught regularly at St. Luke’s, training centers were being started in churches, hospitals, hospices, and care centers across Texas and other states. Now a fourteen-week curriculum, COH has grown to over 125 centers established across the United States, British Columbia, Canada, Mexico, and in Malawi, Africa. Appropriately, it is now called Community of Hope International. 


In 1995, various staff members from St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston came together to create the Community of Hope logo in order to publish the program’s first informational brochure.

          Three symbols were needed:            

          One to identify the founding home of St. Luke’s

          One to denote the faith practice

          One to define the central theme of hope


After a lively discussion, the group chose to combine the cross, dove, and olive branch.

The cross always visible on the tower of St. Luke’s Hospital is a Greek cross with four equal arms at right angles. Each arm is made up of five perpendicular lines. These five lines can be found making up the dove’s tail, therefore representing the founding home of COH.

The dove represents the Holy Spirit, integral to the Trinity and basic in every Christian denomination.

The olive branch symbolizes the olive branch carried by the dove to the ark, which brought hope that those on the ark would live and that land was near.