By KATIE LEFEBVRE
CARROLL – Five words Peg Scheidt, chaplain at St. Anthony Hospital and Nursing Home, makes sure to convey to patients and residents are to “remember that you are loved.”
“Those words are really healing because I don’t know if people hear that enough in their lives,” said Scheidt, who has been a chaplain for 30 years, 22 of which at St. Anthony’s. “To be able to be present, to listen, to pray with them and to offer the reassurance that they are not alone in the moment is what it’s all about.”
Before ministering at St. Anthony’s, Scheidt was a chaplain at Avero Sacred Heart in Yankton, S.D., for eight years. She is a certified chaplain and is a member of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.
“It was important to me to work in a faith-based facility due to the connections to religious sisters,” said the chaplain. “It is in the ministry of a healthcare setting that all of this experience is a holy work. It has not always been a pleasant experience – long hours, listening to people in pain, dealing with death, deadlines and being an advocate for others. Sometimes I ask the question, ‘It is all worth it?’ All I can say is, ‘YES.’”
Never a typical day
Each day for Scheidt is different. She begins her day about 6 a.m. and organizes what she thinks her day will be.
“Just like that, God calls with a whole different agenda,” said Scheidt. “A typical day for me is responding to codes, traumas, sitting with the dying and answering phone calls. Chaplains in spiritual care have to be so flexible or they would not be able to do what they do. My job description is unending.”
The chaplain said she is blessed to receive “so many gifts. I truly believe the Lord is part of who I am because I couldn’t do what I do without him.”
“I get to eat a lot of pie and ice cream,” said Scheidt, who said it is not all about that, but that is where people see her. “There is so much ministry across the table. It is the interaction and the listening that takes place.”
In her 30 years of ministry, Scheidt has witnessed many changes, mainly with the use of computers and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability). When she began, there was no charting that was done, but now she charts her visits with most patients.
Scheidt has enjoyed having the privilege to work with so many “wonderful” individuals, who are all there for the same goal. She has been able to build lasting friendships and wanted to thank all the volunteers who help her.
“God has been good to me,” she said. “My ministry as chaplain has been and continues to be a blessing and a privilege. Chaplaincy has been a good fit.”
The chaplain said there are many perks to her job – working the hours she wants, being flexible, having the opportunity to network with clergy and other chaplains all over the country.
“I get to meet people with diverse backgrounds and get to learn something new every day,” said Scheidt. “My days are filled with good people, good experiences and at the end of the day I know that I did the best that I could.”
Praying with staff, patients, residents
“Over the past three years, I have had to lean on Peg as a hospital chaplain many times,” said Karen Phillips, financial analyst at St. Anthony’s. “As I was dealing with the stress of losing my parents and brother, Peg was right there guiding me to draw strength from God. Chaplains take away the anxiety, bring peace and always leave you with a smile on your face.”
Jerry Bender, a Carroll resident, has been a patient at St. Anthony’s a few times and has developed a relationship with Scheidt and the hospital staff. Scheidt takes time to pray with Bender while he is in the hospital.
“I am a spiritual person and I don’t think this can be done without God,” said Bender. “I needed to be reminded of that and this kind lady (pointing at Scheidt) is always here. What I like about Peg is when my pastor is gone, she’s always available. ”
Helen Stevens, whose home parish is Sacred Heart in Templeton, has been a resident in the nursing home for four years. With the help of Scheidt, Stevens said she is able to go to confession and attends Mass six days a week in the chapel.
“My ministry involves opportunities to be with God’s people of all faiths,” said Scheidt. “My passion within my ministry is to be present with those who are dying and with their families and to minister to the elderly. God is present within the human experience and in all of my ministry I get to experience God’s presence.”