It is not unusual for nursing homes and medical facilities to have small chapels inside them—a room where residents, families or visitors can stop to pray or meditate.
What is unusual is for a facility to have a chapel as spacious and nice as the one at Homestead Care Center in New Holstein.
“It’s common to have a chapel, but not this size and with all the features,” Administrator Andrew Goodman said of the Homestead’s chapel. Activities Director Marlene Schneider added, “It’s a great asset for our facility.”
Schneider said the chapel was renovated about five years ago after the Homestead was sold by Calumet County to a private firm. The chapel is located midway down a lower level hallway.
Added to the altar and pulpit which were already at the Homestead at the time of the renovation were church pews which were acquired by the Homestead Auxilairy and then restored. An electric piano was donated by a former resident. Schneider said about the only thing the chapel could use is a better sound system.
“The chapel is used for religious services for our residents,” Schneider said. Catholic Masses are held every Friday, and Lutheran or Protestant services are held on a regular schedule as well. Schneider said she works to schedule Masses and services to be conducted by the pastors and/or deacons of the congregations to which the current residents belong. “That way the residents can see their minister on a more regular basis than just the occasional visit,” Schneider said. Priests or pastors currently come from New Holstein, Kiel, Elkhart Lake and the Hilbert area to perform services at the Homestead.
Schneider said attendance at the services varies based on the residents living there at any given time, but generally 15 to 20 people attend a service. Sometimes the clergy will bring along choir members to sing or an organist, and Divine Savior School students from Kiel have attended as well to help with readings or to sing songs for the Catholic Masses.
Schneider also said a couple of her volunteers at the Homestead put on non-ecumenical services which include Bible readings pertinent to the week or season along with music and prayer. Other than those services, Schneider said it is common for residents to attend only the services of the denomination to which they belonged prior to residing at the Homestead.
The chapel is used for more than religous services, however, as funerals of residents have been held there as well. In addition, the pews and other items in the room can be easily moved to create another room for family gatherings, including birthday parties. Schneider said functions with as many as 60 people in attendance have been held in the room. In-service trainings for Homestead staff also are regularly held in the chapel.
Schneider keeps a CD player in the chapel with religious music playing so that residents or staff can go in anytime and sit. “It’s a very serene place,” she said. “In the summertime we have a flower bed right outside, and you often will see birds and rabbits out there. It’s a very nice view right outside our chapel. Families will go in there when they visit to look outside.”
Goodman said nursing homes of today are not like those of 20 or even 10 years ago. Great efforts continue to make these facilities more home-like and to offer residents all the amenities they might need—including nurturing their souls.
For more information on Homestead Care Center call 898-4296. The facility is owned by Rice Management. The Appleton-based company also owns Chilton Care Center and numerous other facilities across Wisconsin. Each resident in its skilled nursing facilities has a personal care plan designed to meet his or her individual needs.