My Essential Errand

By Mary Lee Dodd 

Presented at The Chaplaincy Institute's Spring 2017 Ordination and Credentialing Ceremony, March 18, 2017

Mary Lee Dodd.jpgI found a marvelous quote by Michael Meade: “Each life involves an Essential Errand; not simply a task of survival, but a life-mission embedded in the soul from the beginning.”Recently I reviewed the steps of my life and my own Essential Errand that brought me to this moment. As a child, I went out into my Oakland, CA neighborhood greeting anyone I met with these words: “Did you know God loves you?” My Errand was to Voice a simple truth of Divine Love taught to me by my mother. By the time I went off to college, I found my Errand to be a Microbiologist doing various clinical and environmental testing. I then worked for various Public Health Laboratories, the Food & Drug Administration, and Kaiser Clinical Laboratories for over 40 years. 
One day I walked down a long empty hallway from the lab to the cafeteria and I saw a man coming towards me with tears in his eyes. I warmly said “hello” and he looked startled. (Scientists often seem to be contemplating their testing problems of the day and don’t often share personal stuff.) The next day I walked the empty hallway, and the same man came hurriedly up to me saying, “how nice of you to say hello---could we talk?” We shared many lunches and his grief of losing his wife. I knew he needed that support. I realized that something changed in me as I shared those special moments with a stranger. I felt my Errand expanding to be a companion to those experiencing life’s tough moments.

I retired as a microbiologist and began to volunteer and assist seniors and their pets with disaster preparation at the Rossmoor Senior Community in Walnut Creek, CA. My Errand was connecting me with more training and more people needing care and support. In the first aid class and the emergency radio classes, I met two people who referred me to the Chaplaincy Institute. As I perused their website, my 70 year old heart seemed to leap --- and it wasn’t a heart attack! I knew I was called to enroll with The Chaplaincy Institute!

This journey of my soul’s Errand has brought me to 2017 and my training to be a Chaplain. I intend to be a companion to those who are injured, ill, or dying, or to be a support to those grieving the loss of a partner or a pet. 
What Errand do you have embodied in your soul?
I encourage you to be a voice to unite hearts!
Or, maybe you can volunteer to support others!
Or, maybe your Errand is to become an Interfaith Minister!
The needs of The Chaplaincy Institute began to tug at my heart again. This time my errand was to donate $80,000 to continue supporting The Chaplaincy Institute.

Please consider donating for the future of The Chaplaincy Institute and future men and women to be ordained as Interfaith Ministers! 


Why I Give to ChI

Margaret Northall.jpgI have been thinking about how ChI has helped my formation journey as an Interfaith Minister and Chaplain. When I bring my gift to accompany others on their awakening journey, I bring a great deal of what I learned in my Interfaith Studies at ChI with me.

I am deeply appreciative that The ChI Interfaith Community is my community, supporting the ministry I am engaged in, with the intention to bring healing and transformation. For its continued growth and sustainability, I realized how important it is to support ChI through a monthly contribution. The mission statement includes a much needed expanded interfaith role which can be made possible by support from monthly contributions. I hope you will join me in doing so. Together, we take a step forward.

Rev. Margaret Northall, RN

Mary Jane Ryan Connelly.jpgI was working on my Core Competencies when I received the May 21, 2016, Spring Appeal email that included ChI's mission statement. I've read it before but this time it had a whole new meaning to me as I am coming closer to being officially a member of The ChI Interfaith Community. I just melted. What an affirmation for me that this is just where I am meant to be. I felt so grateful. These are my goals too. I have been observing that interfaith is more and more the way of the future and there it is in the mission statement. I do see ChI adventurously delving into cutting edge approaches to facilitate that mission.
And the second half, "To heal and transform the world” has been my daily intention for a long time. In the back of my mind, I always felt that one day I would be able to go to the United Nations and negotiate peace between...well you can fill in the blanks there! Then the realization came to me that that was highly unlikely, as much as I wanted to do it and thought I could actually make it happen! Ah, youth. Such big visions.
Then I wondered what I could do to help bring about peace. I decided that teaching yoga was one way to contribute to world peace. It is a small way, but one that would have a cumulative effect. With that express goal in mind, I am now starting my 18th year of Sunday Morning Yoga Sanctuary.
Feeling this kinship with ChI, I started a modest monthly contribution to support the work of ChI.
Thank you ChI!

Rev. Mary Jane Ryan-Connelly

I completed the Interfaith Studies Certificate Program at ChI after two years of study and was ordained an Interfaith Minister by The ChI Community. After spending the previous 25 years in the high-tech business world, I can only describe my experience at ChI as life changing.  My perspectives of Divinity, of other people, and of myself are so much broader today than when I started my training, and I am a happier, more fulfilled, and a more grounded person as a result. I am a monthly donor to ChI because, as a “satisfied customer,” I strongly support its mission and embrace its values.  I know that tuitions alone do not provide sufficient operating capital for ChI to maintain its academic and ordination programs at the level of quality I desire, expect and have received.  My monthly gift helps ChI to have broader visibility into its financial resources—a sense of security for maintaining annual programs and objectives.

I also make an annual year end donation to ChI to help support the plans made by the ChI Board, faculty, and staff to expand and develop ChI’s programs and reach.   During my two years, I saw some of these dreams bear fruit, to the benefit of many.  The leadership team does a good job of keeping me informed of its directions and intentions, so I have a good idea about how my annual contribution can help.

Recently the ChI leadership sent out the results of its annual strategic planning retreat.  I encourage you to review the mission, values, and goals outlined on the website to learn more.  If they resonate with you, please consider offering your financial support.   

Molly Miller

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