Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Interfaith Chaplain Abby Pollender, CEO Paul Bengtson and John Haygood, NVRH Corporator, admire the piece recently compiled by John Haygood and gifted to the chapel. The piece features an original Four Chaplains postage stamp, a larger rendition of the stamp and the story of the Four Chaplains, for whom the NVRH chapel is named after in memory of Father Mel Richardson, who began the chaplaincy service at NVRH in 1989. The four WWII Chaplains, all from different religious denominations, were Father Mel’s role models, celebrating selfless service and unity with their sacrifice and support of all faiths.
Father Mel began the chaplaincy service at the hospital in 1989, and the story of the Four Chaplains was one of his favorite stories, since it exemplified unity in all religious sects. The ceremony presenting Haygood’s piece to Bengtson and Pollender on February 3 commemorated the 73rd year of the sinking of the SS Dorchester, the ship the four chaplains were on as it was torpedoed by a submarine. The chaplains gave up their life jackets as the ship went down – the last sight that many men had is of the chaplains singing hymns and praying with their arms interlocked.
George Fox was one of the chaplains who died when the ship went down. His parishes were in Union Village, Thetford and Gilman, VT and his legacy lived on after his death.
The gathering at the chapel brought a wonderful variety of people, including a nurse, Valerie Fitchett who worked with Father Mel on Founder’s Hall, and a local couple, Wayne and Vivian Fox from Lyndonville (no relation to George Fox). George Fox had married Vivian’s parents, so when she and Wayne decided to get married, they tracked down George’s wife Isadore, who was also a minister. Isadore Fox wrote a book, The Immortal Chaplain about her husband George after he passed away.
The Chapel of the Four Chaplains is a non-denominational space for patients, visitors and staff, located on the main floor of the hospital for prayer and meditation. All are welcome.