Chaplain to Chaplain Interview
Mary Marks recently joined the team at Beacon Hill as the Clinical Care Chaplain. Chaplain Mary will work to focus on the integration of spiritual care within the clinical aspects of Beacon Hill, specifically in our Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living communities.
Chaplain Travis asked Mary a few questions to get to know her.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and where have you spent your adult years? I was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts—the second oldest of five children in a typical Irish-Catholic family. I attended college at Fairfield University for a degree in Nursing, and I have lived and worked all over the country. I met my husband, Brian, while working in California. We have been married for 30 years and have one child, a son, who lives in Minneapolis. We moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1998. I worked as an RN and then healthcare administrator for many years prior to moving into chaplaincy in 2017. My faith is rooted in Imago Dei, all are created in the image and likeness of God, and the teachings of Jesus that we are to love God and love our neighbor. This has been a deep source of strength and hope for me throughout my life. I am an active member of the Sunday Assembly at the Dominican Chapel at Marywood. I became a Dominican Associate in 2017 and remain actively engaged with the work of the Dominican sisters and associates at Marywood.
What is it about being a chaplain that gets you excited? What drew you to pursue the call to chaplaincy? What excites me about being a chaplain is being able to focus on the spiritual domain of the person, regardless of their faith tradition. I want to support people in their beliefs—help them and support them in identifying and accessing sources of strength and hope in life—journey with them as they search for a sense of meaning and purpose, peace, and safety at different phases of life—and be a source of comfort for others. This brings me joy. Throughout my years in healthcare, I have seen how much the spiritual aspect of a person impacts the physical, psychological and social aspects of their being, and felt called to chaplaincy—to a vocation that would allow me to care more specifically for that aspect of the person.
Tell me a bit about your background in chaplaincy? What kind of internships, jobs, and trainings have you been involved in? After a period of discernment a few years ago, I left my role as a healthcare administrator to pursue a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies through Loyola University Chicago, which I completed last year, along with Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE/internships), to become a chaplain in healthcare. I completed four internships, all in acute care hospital settings. One at McLaren Greater Lansing and three at Mercy Health Muskegon. I was hired by Mercy Health Muskegon as a relief chaplain and then asked to step into the interim manager of spiritual care role, which I held for about 9 months prior to coming to Beacon Hill. In the internships and work at Mercy Health Muskegon, I provided spiritual care to people of all faiths and no faiths. In addition to my work as a chaplain, I am finishing up the first year of a two practicum through the Dominican Center at Marywood to become a spiritual director.
So, you used to work in a hospital setting? Why the change to Beacon Hill? As a chaplain in the hospital setting, I worked primarily with adults, often older adults, and their families. As acute care hospital stays are typically short, I would often only have time to meet with an individual once or twice, and there was no opportunity for ongoing support when they left the hospital. When the opportunity at Beacon Hill presented itself, I was thrilled, as it would allow me to provide ongoing and more comprehensive spiritual support to individuals, their families, and the staff. In addition, I have cherished memories of the wonderful care my in-laws received at Beacon Hill during their later years. I am grateful to be able to support the mission, vision, and values of Beacon Hill as a chaplain here.
Chaplain Mary’s office is located across from the receptionist’s desk in the lobby of Skilled Nursing. When visiting hours are reinstated at Beacon Hill, please stop by to meet and welcome Mary to our community.
Peace be upon you,
Chaplain Travis Jamieson