Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice Chaplain Wayne Mason has announced after 15 years he is retiring.
Mason served as a pastor for 25 years in Colorado and Kansas before taking on the position with Harry Hynes Hospice, serving an eight-county area.
“I went straight from being a pastor to being a chaplain and have throughly enjoyed the chaplaincy,” he said. He experienced hospice on the personal side as well as the professional side, when he lost his first wife to Alzheimer’s disease after 40 years of marriage.
“I very much believe in it,” he said. “I know from the personal side we need other people involved with us as we are going through grief, both before a death and after.”
He has worked with a lot of people through his 15 years of chaplaincy and traveled a lot, sometimes driving between 1,500 and 2,000 miles a month to visit with them, until COVID-19 hit the nation.
Chaplaincy afforded him those opportunities in ministry he most enjoyed.
“Being a pastor you are being an organizer as much as anything. You are meeting with individuals and doing the public stuff, but it is more getting people organized to giving the full effort of following their faith,” he said.
Being a chaplain with hospice allowed him more opportunity to meet with individuals and families.
“That’s been a delight,” he said, though lamenting that this last year has been more challenging in that capacity because of COVID-19. A lot of people he works with are not especially tech savvy, so trying to link up online is not usually an option.
“I have to do a lot over the phone rather than being in person. I can’t do as much of the hand holding, and counseling, and direct care,” Mason said. “I can’t go into nursing homes. I can’t go into assisted living places. Some homes are very limited. It just makes it more difficult to do the job.”
These are not causes for him retiring, he said, but he was saddened his remaining time in the chaplaincy was serving others in a more distant manner, rather than being by their side.
“It’s not as satisfying,” he said. “I had planned on retirement anyway. It just seems nice to turn it over to somebody else and let them do this ministry and I will be finding other ministry. It’s a good time to get out as well as a good time for someone else to come in.”
Mason said he has always defined retirement as change in career.
“I’m going to be doing something,” he said. “My wife and I have some ideas on those things, they just need to bear fruit.”
Part of that retirement time will be traveling with his wife, Brenda, to visit all 50 states if at all possible.
“We’ve only tackled seven states so far. We’ve got another 43 to go, except COVID got in the way this year,” he said.
The couple have been married 2 1/2 years and they are looking forward to sharing of such experiences and exploring life, as well as spending more time with Mason’s six grandchildren, who have lovingly adopted Brenda as “Gigi.”
Mason said he would also like to fit in some time for hobbies, such as photography and woodworking.
Primarily, though, the couple are looking at various forms of ministry, such as grief ministry, marriage enrichment and budget counseling, to help those who are trying to make their dollars stretch as far as possible.
“I think we will stay busy with those kinds of things going on,” he said. “Hopefully after the first of the year we’ll get started through a church, or churches. … Brenda and I are both from backgrounds working with people, and there is a strength in that.”
A retirement reception is planned for Mason from 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Harry Hynes Hospice in Oswego, 1010 S. Commercial. All those visiting are required to wear masks and practice social distancing.