At a hospital in Texas, a grandmother’s heart is torn. She is thrilled at the birth of her twin grandchildren. Yet at the same time, she feels a mother’s fear for the life of her daughter after serious complications following the delivery. Barbara Todd, the grandmother, who also works as assistant to the president at Shore Memorial Hospital, visits the Texas hospital’s chapel, looking for solace and a place to pray for her daughter’s safe recovery.
Inspired by Todd’s experience, the idea of creating a place of hope and peace specifically for individuals’ spiritual needs at Shore Memorial Hospital began to come alive in October 2000. Members of the hospital’s Chapel committee wanted to create a healing environment similar to the one in Texas and another they had seen in Florida.
The hospital’s executive team and Board of Trustees overwhelmingly approved the design and construction of a new chapel. The Chapel at Shore Memorial Hospital is a place for strength and spiritual support for patients, family members, physicians, visitors and staff. It provides a calming environment for individual prayer, meditation and peaceful reflection, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“At Shore Memorial we recognize that spirituality plays an important role in healing ourselves and the healing of others,” says Albert L. Gutierrez, Shore Memorial’s president and CEO. “We have incorporated this principle into our strategic plan.”
The building’s rooftop location and octagonal shape allow for plenty of natural light to stream through its stained glass windows, which were designed to reflect the seasons at the shore. The windows create a balance of harmony with the surrounding seashore, including a view of the Ocean City skyline.
Since the Chapel first opened its doors in 2004, it has been a home to prayer services, holiday celebrations and even weddings. Currently, Shore Memorial’s Catholic Chaplain Father Peter DiTomasso holds a first Friday Mass there each month.
On May 27, Shore Memorial celebrated the Chapel’s 5th anniversary with a musical tribute and interfaith service blessing. During the ceremony, clergy members and hospital employees shared the importance of having a sanctuary within the hospital where anyone can go to celebrate, grieve or pray regardless of their faith background.
“A chapel exists for a different purpose,” says Rev. Neil Jaggie of Epiphany Lutheran Church in Pleasantville who spoke during the anniversary celebration. “It exists as a place for hope to be born. A chapel should be at the very heart of a hospital.”