This is my final article, the 434th that I have written since I started my work as chaplain at Bethesda Hospital and Place. I want to use this final article to express my gratitude and say good bye.
In June of 2001 I accepted the position as chaplain here at Bethesda after a year of training. But the change it my life from being a congregational pastor to becoming a healthcare chaplain came at a painful price. I had served a congregation in the city for 19 years and after long and often difficult years my tenure at that church ended with disappointment so deep that I was not prepared to move on to another church. I was through!
My options seemed slim, the only vocation I had known was the ministry. After graduation from high school I went directly to Bible College than to Seminary, a year later I became a pastor and for 22 years I had served two churches, one for 3 years and the second for 19. My only other work experience besides summer and part-time jobs had been window washing, which I did for three years almost full time while going to seminary.
As I sought God’s direction He opened all the doors for me to move into health care chaplaincy so I followed and I am so glad I did. These past 17 years of my work life have been the most joyful and rewarding of my work life and much of that is due to the way in which the community and Bethesda received and treated me. I was welcomed to the community by the churches who accepted full responsibility in the beginning for the funding of the position. The support of the churches and people of this community have been unwavering and so overwhelmingly positive that it is difficult to believe. I am humbled by the trust, support and encouragement that so many have extended to me.
Bethesda Hospital and Place received me as warmly as the community. The staff quickly made room for me and the services I provide and soon began to value my work. The staff have been wonderful and I will miss them. I have enjoyed working with all our staff at Bethesda Place, Bethesda Hospital, those in the community programs that I have worked with as well as the many physicians that serve the Hospital and Bethesda Place. To each I want to express my thanks and applauded the wonderful work that you do.
I also want to thank the thousands of people that have opened their hearts to my care when they were patients in Bethesda Hospital, residents at Bethesda Place and the families who supported them. At some of the worst times in many of your lives, you have allowed me to serve you and for that I am grateful. Over the years many I have cared for have died, others have experienced dramatic changes in their health requiring equally dramatic changes in their lives; but your kindness and openheartedness have always called from my heart compassion and respect as we have mutually trusted God for what he was doing in your lives.
Finally, I need to say “Good Bye”. This “Good Bye” has a finality to it because I do not live in the area. Chances are we won’t be running into each other in the store or on the street or in church as I do all those things in the southwest corner of Winnipeg. For many years I have held chapel services three times a week, in the living room of Prairie Rose at Bethesda Place. We conclude each service with the old hymn, God be with you till we meet again; and maybe that is the best way to say “Good Bye”. It is my prayer that God be with you and my hope that we will meet again. So long and God Bless!
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.