Healing is happening within the walls of Mercy Hospital Lebanon – and not just physically. For nearly two decades, Chaplain Linda Rodden has served as a guiding light for patients overcoming many of life’s challenges.
“Whether it’s a lost loved one, a struggle with spirituality or any other difficult decisions, chaplains are there to offer hope when someone needs it most,” said Rodden, who knows how vital her services are; she lost her husband in 1998.
“He was ill for ten years, and needed dialysis when his kidneys failed,” Rodden said. “We suffered through the pain of that journey together. I think it prepared me to have a heart for people who were in crisis. After his death, I felt a calling.”
Six months later, the St. Louis native went back to school, receiving her clinical pastoral education at Mercy (formerly St. John’s Medical Center) in Springfield before joining Mercy Hospital Lebanon (formerly Breech Medical Center) as its first and only full-time chaplain. Rodden previously attended Missouri Baptist College, Southwest Baptist University and Memphis Theological Seminary’s program of alternate studies.
“Mercy has embraced me, helped educate me and encouraged me,” Rodden said. In the past five years, she has expanded her reach to many of Mercy’s regional clinics, mentoring Mercy patients and co-workers face to face or by phone. “It has been a blessing, and also rewarding, to bring a reminder of God’s strength to the bedside, and give people a purpose to move forward.”
Rodden, too, is moving forward; in July, she officially retires. A celebration is set for Friday, July 7, from 2-4 p.m. in the Mercy Hospital Lebanon conference rooms. The public is invited to attend.
“It will certainly be a bittersweet celebration; she will be greatly missed,” said Brenda Wieners, administrative assistant for pastoral services. “Chaplain Linda has been a great spiritual mentor for me the past seven years. Her advice and wisdom have not only been helpful with my position at Mercy, but also in my ministry outside of the hospital.”
Even before retirement, the question “Where is Linda?” has been spoken almost daily at Mercy – a testament to her ability to transcend barriers and offer support. Her successor, Jeannette Collins-Glas, will assume full-time chaplaincy on July 10. At that point, you’ll likely find Rodden, who is happily remarried, volunteering at White Oak Pond Cumberland Presbyterian Church or spending more time with her husband and grandchildren.
“I’m so proud of the work I’ve done at Mercy, and I’m looking forward to this new chapter,” said Rodden. “We’ll see what God has in store for me!”
Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2017 by Truven, an IBM Watson Health company, serves millions annually. Mercy includes 44 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.