A Blessed Season of Life: Retired Army Chaplain Reflects on New Hospice Ministry

By Mark Mitera, Chaplain, LTC, US Army, Retired – Current Hospice Chaplain

This season of life has been such a blessing for me as I serve as a hospice chaplain. My typical visits with a patient include having a conversation with them which includes their relationship with God, singing hymns and folk songs as I play my guitar, bible reading, and prayer. I meet many wonderful patients and family members and have found my ministry of encouragement to be very fulfilling.  I loved serving as an Army chaplain for many years, but I equally love serving as a hospice chaplain.

The following is a summary of the past 6 months:

  • Number of patients visited: 544
  • Avg visit time/patient: 55 minutes
  • Avg hours/day of patient contact: 4.49
  • Number of deaths: 89
  • Funerals conducted: 5
  • Bibles (Gospels) given away: 59
  • Church services conducted: 19

My wife, Annette, and I took a trip to Washington State to visit my kids and grandkids for a week. We had a wonderful visit; we had the grandkids at our motel for sleepovers on several nights. We came back worn out; but had a great time! They’re all talking about coming out to Ohio next summer to visit us!

I continue to preach every other week at small country United Methodist Churches in my area. The district office has called upon me to fill the pulpit, even though they know I’m a Baptist minister.  Attendance at each service usually ranges between 10-25 people, and I often play guitar at church as well.  I’ve been able to fill the pulpit at the same churches (usually 2 per Sunday) until they find a full-time preacher.  Since I have some consistency at the churches, I’ve been doing some expository preaching through the Gospel of Matthew.

Please pray:

1. For my daughter who is working on overcoming a drug problem. She has been sober for over 60 days, is back in church again, and is working on staying on track with her addiction program (counseling and small groups at an outpatient treatment program).

2. For my continued outreach to my hospice patients. I am currently seeing 81% of those on our census. Pray that they would come to know and love Christ as they face the end of life.

Join me in praying for Mark’s continued effective ministry to his hospice patients and their loved ones, thanking God for his encouraging musical gifts; and for his pulpit supply ministry to rural Athens Ohio churches.  May God continue to use Mark’s presence, words, music and preaching to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to the living and dying – that includes us all!

For more stories by and about CBAmerica’s 200 chaplains – civilian and military – visit our webpage at https://cbamerica.org/chaplaincy/.  To learn more about endorsement for chaplaincy, email Andy Meverden at chapandy@cbamerica.org.