Meet Dana Mersereau, Chaplain

Picture It. Boonsboro 2022. It’s 3:00 PM on a Wednesday afternoon and Activities has started rounding the corners for transport. One by one they fill the aisles. The pianist starts playing a familiar tune. The microphone crackles to life in a sound check. The pews get fuller. The lights get lower. The sun is shining through the stained glass windows. The sermon has been prepared. Hymnals are at the ready. Welcome to the Fahrney Keedy Chapael!

Let’s face it, life itself can be pretty hard. There’s any number of things that a person would need to be able to get through it. Now imagine, if a person didn’t have the use of a particular part of their body. Their mind has left them so they need help remembering important details, recognizing friends and family, or even knowing what day it is. They have lost the ability to live independently so they rely heavily on an aide or nurse for help. Their family is no longer able to care for them so they have turned the reins over to someone else. To make matters worse, for a brief period of time during a global pandemic, the individual was not allowed to leave their room, socialize or see their family for months on end. Those circumstances can be pretty life changing and hard to get through. They can take a toll on the body and the mind and the heart. In those moments, the power of the human spirit may not be enough. Residents have to turn to a higher power. Their faith. Whether it be through music, prayer, weekly chapel, faith based activities, or quarterly memorial services to remember those we’ve lost, it’s important to our residents to be able to access their spirituality when they need it most. And there is one person tasked with building that bridge for them. And he may just be Canada’s greatest export. After maple syrup of course.

Each week we will be highlighting a member of the Fahrney Keedy Family to learn a little bit more about their life and career. They will be offering a unique perspective on their role as well as advice for those considering a career in senior living.

This week, we get a snapshot into the life and career of Dana Mersereau, Chaplain:

Where did you go to school? What was your major? “I grew up in the province of New Brunswick, Canada, which borders on the state of Maine. After finishing high school, I attended New Brunswick Bible Institute and received a diploma for finishing the three year program. Some time later, I received a Bachelor of Theology degree from London Baptist Bible College in London, Ontario, Canada. I majored in pastoral studies.”

Do you have any other certifications? “After some time in the pastorate, I was officially ordained to the Christian ministry by my church in Nova Scotia, Canada, following a three hour evaluation by a council of 27 men from a variety of ministries.”

When did you know you wanted to be a Chaplain? What drew you to your current position? “The Lord stirred my heart to work in ministry during a conference in the fall of the year I graduated from NBBI. I applied for mission work and eventually became a pastor in Canada for over 30 years.”

What brought you to Fahrney Keedy? “My wife Bonnie and I moved to Boonsboro, Maryland following the death of our oldest daughter, Bethany. We lived in a house owned by San Mar across the road from Fahrney Keedy. After working at Weis Market and then in a Christian school, I needed employment. I then applied to be a driver at the Adult Day Center at Fahrney Keedy. I was accepted for the position but had to work with the Activities department until the Adult Day Center opened. When Covid-19 hit, I was again placed with the Activities department. Eventually, I was asked to assist the Chaplain, Robin Covell, with singing in chapel services. This led to becoming Assistant Chaplain. When Robin resigned, I accepted the position as Chaplain of Fahrney Keedy.”

In honor of #tbt, we want to throw it back to your first day at Fahrney Keedy. What do you remember? “I do remember the orientation and enjoyed the process, although I was not a fan of Relias training, even though it was educational and helpful. What I remember most about working in Activities was that I was the only guy in a room filled with women!”

What does a day in the life look like for you? What are your duties and responsibilities? “As a Chaplain, I have a variety of duties. There is a chapel service on both Sunday and Wednesday. These are broadcast over the intercom for all residents. During the week, I have morning devotions with various groups. One of our residents is a painter with some disability, so I assist him several times a week. Besides visiting, I also play my guitar and sing, especially for the Adult Day Care and Memory Care Unit. My early hours are usually spent in preparation of messages and bulletins. Special services are held at different seasons as well as a Quarterly Memorial Service to remember and honor the passing of our residents.”

Do you have a favorite memory from your time spent working here that you would be willing to share? “Probably the times I was able to drive the big bus for trips with the Independent Living community. Fun, food, and fellowship!”

This pandemic has been hard for everyone but especially for those individuals working in healthcare. How did you personally get through it? “The Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult for all of us. Wearing a mask was not so difficult for me as it is for those with hearing challenges. During the full pandemic when no residents could use the Chapel, at least the service could be done over the intercom. However, now when there are residents in the Covid unit, it means the Chapel is closed to all but those employees working in there. When this occurs, my work is limited. There have been times when I wondered what I can accomplish in such a situation. I have had to refocus on the one-on-one ministry.”

Oscar Wilde once said “with age comes wisdom”. What advice would you give to your younger self? ” If I were to give advice to my younger self, I would make at least two suggestions: Achieve a masters degree that would better prepare for the ministry and make better preparation financially for the future.”

What advice would you give to someone interested in working in Pastoral Services? “If someone is planning to be a Chaplain, do some research on the variety of opportunities where a Chaplain is needed, such as senior living, military, etc. Then get specific training that will best prepare for the position. General ministry training is good but, awareness of specific needs is also necessary.”

And, last question, why should someone choose to join the Fahrney Keedy team? ” The main reason someone should choose to join the Fahrney Keedy team is that there is, for the most part, a good atmosphere with positive support. For me, I appreciate that the facility is Christian faith based.”

Five Second Pose!

We asked Dana five rapid fire questions to get to know him better:

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Movie: Mary Poppins

Favorite Disney Character: Winnie the Pooh (also named after a Canadian city!)

Favorite Superhero: Spiderman

Favorite Actor Age 65 and Over: Most of Dana’s favorites have passed on such as John Wayne, but he does like Clint Eastwood

1 Fun Fact: Dana is left handed, which made it rather challenging to learn to play guitar. But if Paul McCartney can do it, so can Dana!

Thank you so much to Dana Mersereau for sharing! Stay tuned next week when we add another photo to our Family Album!