Chaplain's Corner


  • Larry Hirst, Author
  • Retired Chaplain, Bethesda Place

Transitions are difficult! My co-workers have been working to convince me not to retire. They haven’t been successful. So soon there will be a transition, I will leave and a new chaplain will take my place. I hope to introduce you to the new chaplain in my next post.

Transitions require that we be open to change, to something different, to someone different, to a new way of doing things. I am not a big “change agent”. I’m a status quo kind of guy. Both can be good for there are times when change is absolutely needed and to have someone able to help navigate through the change is great. The status quo can be good as well. If all we did was change, the uncertainty and chaos would overwhelm us.

But there is a time for each and many times that time comes naturally. My retirement and the hiring of a new chaplain is one of those natural changes. No crisis precipitated the change, no tragedy made the change necessary, it is just simply time. When change comes naturally there is great advantage, there is no damage control to be managed, there are no wounds to be healed; there is simply a change of person, a change of perspective, a change of operation that comes when a new person steps into a role.

Several attitudes can help the change take place smoothly. First, the attitude of thanksgiving. I am thankful for having had the privilege of serving in this position for the past 17 years. I am thankful for the wonderful working relationships that I have enjoyed, the spirit of cooperation and the mutual respect. I trust that as I leave there is gratitude that I have been here. But we need as well to cultivate gratitude for the new chaplain. We can be grateful that Southern Health-Santé Sud and the Steinbach and Area Ministerial Association so quickly and easily signed a new agreement to fund the chaplain position at Bethesda going for another three years. We can be grateful for those who participated in the hiring process and the good candidates that were examined and the person hired to take my place.

We should also cultivate the attitude of anticipation. The new chaplain will have “fresh legs” whereas I am bushed. The new chaplain will be motivated and excited whereas I am struggling to keep motivated and looking forward to the finish line. We can anticipate a similar but different skill set that will see the challenges of this position through fresh eyes and be able to bring strength to areas where I was weak. We can anticipate that my steady as you go “status quo” will naturally give way to new approaches to the work, engaged by a person with skills and experience and the eagerness that comes when accepting a new challenge.

We should also cultivate the attitude of the forward gaze. Please don’t look back and say, “That’s not how Larry did things.” Or “Larry would have handled that differently”. Larry will be gone and if we believe that God is in this work, and I do, then the new chaplain will be God’s person for this place and this time. There is a place for backward gazing, but it is the forward gaze that will help everyone through this transition. Look forward to many wonderful years with the new chaplain. Look forward to the ways in which this new chaplain will bless the patients, their families and the staff of Bethesda Hospital and Place. Look forward to getting to know and love another person. Look forward to praying for and supporting the new chaplain as you have prayed for and supported me for so long.

Things they are a changing – and it’s a good thing – join me in embracing the changes and let’s make the transition easy for the new chaplain.

Chaplain's Corner was written by Bethesda Place now retired chaplain Larry Hirst. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the writer and do not represent the views or opinions of people, institutions or organizations that the writer may have been associated with professionally.