Chaplains provide “church away from church” for residents

TINLEY PARK, Ill. (April 2015) — Through Providence’s chaplaincy program, pastors serve our campuses by providing spiritual support, leading worship, and serving residents as well as families and staff. Six chaplains serve 10 Providence communities and Providence Hospice clients. Rev. Phil Tjoelker serves as the chaplain for three Providence locations: Providence of Palos Heights, Thomas Place of Orland Park, and Victorian Village in Homer Glen. Below, he shares his thoughts on his work, and what the chaplaincy program means to him and to the residents he serves.

Church away from church

Chaplain Phil Tjoelker

by Chaplain Phil Tjoelker Chaplain Phil Tjoelker

A major priority of mine as a Providence chaplain is to enable our residents to worship the Lord “in spirit and in truth.” The worship of the Lord is the highest calling Christians have.  This calling does not end when one enters a Providence community. It must continue.

There are several clients I work with who are able to continue worshipping weekly in their home churches.  This should be encouraged.  Many clients, however, are not able to worship in their home churches because of health challenges and because they have had to move far from their home churches.

Eleanor, a resident of Victorian Village, moved from Ohio to Illinois to be closer to her family.  She loved her church in Ohio and misses it very much.  But Eleanor frequently expresses her gratitude that she now has a new “church.” This “church” has its own regular pastor and she is able to worship the Lord and experience true Christian fellowship because Providence Life Services provides a chaplain who is able to have consistent weekly services, Bible studies, fellowship groups, Hymn-sings, foster a Christian culture, and support people with prayer. Frequently, members of Eleanor’s family also worship with her at Victorian Village!

The worshipping Christian community at Victorian Village at other Providence communities have become “church away from church” for so many of our clients.  This is an enormously beneficial asset that Providence Life Services provides which has eternal consequences.

I am so blessed and thankful that I am able to provide a “church away from church” for so many people, thanks to the priorities of Providence Life Services.

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