From the Rev: End of a Chapter
Last week, the news finally came, Hospice of Saint John would finally be closing its doors. The announcement to staff was not necessarily a surprise as this past July, the 2nd oldest hospice in the United States had to close its inpatient facility. The final close of doors is dependent on getting patients transferred to other hospice care and shutting down its operations, but there will no longer be a Hospice of Saint John.
The Hospice of Saint John will always have a close place in my heart – it is where I first began paid vocational ministry work after finishing seminary. I started as an 0n-call weekend chaplain before working for nearly three and a half years in that same inpatient facility that shut its doors in July. Hospice of Saint John is where I met Elias Burgos (CrossTraining’s first Spanish-speaking chaplain) and also where I met Ricardo Orellana (recently departed for New Jersey after serving 4 years as Spanish-speaking chaplain).
The hospice was also for me a tensioning extreme – it was very clear to me that the work that I was doing with the professional athletes of the Colorado Rapids was in contrast to the people that I served in hospice care. And the stories…there are so many stories, so many special moments (like this one that was recorded). I have thought that I might one day try to write the stories of my experience, but for now they are embedded in my heart, mind, and soul.
The last four years, as I have been pastoring at Cherry Hills Community Church, I have still remained in touch with several at the Hospice of Saint John. And now, to hear that the hospice will finally close its doors, I can be thankful on two fronts. First, for the opportunity afforded to me. To grow in my ministerial experience. My hospice experience matured me pastorally in ways that are really inestimable – while I had a heart for ministry I grew in a short amount of time and for hospice and for God’s favor in it, I am thankful. Secondly, I am also thankful for God’s provision – for my family and for continuing ministry. I did not really have a vision to leave the hospice, but a very special lady – Helen Parton (a nurse at the hospice and church member of Cherry Hills) told me about the position in pastoral care with the church. She encouraged me to apply. Her job was one of the ones lost last week. Helen is a dear woman of God – always giving of herself (as this story will show you). Helen’s surgery to donate a kidney (see the previous link) was my first visit as a pastoral care pastor from Cherry Hills. Please pray that God provides for her and her family.
And as the Hospice of Saint John closes its chapter, I will be always grateful to God for the ways that I learned and grew as a chaplain there. To Him be the glory.
Rev. Brad Kenney