December Newsletter

Dear friends of SOS,

As many of you are aware, this last year I was involved heavily in a residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (see last post) pursuing my clinical education. Upon completion of that at the end of August, I have been waiting for God to move and He finally has. I am accepting an appointment as a Chaplain at Sheridan Correctional Center in Sheridan, IL.Consider watching a video on this link.

I have always had an interest in this type of ministry and feel that it is God’s additional call in addition to the motorsport’s ministry. This being said however, my work schedule at the prison will not allow me to be at Byron Dragway on Saturdays any longer. I will be there on most Sundays however and will continue to preach on the Big Bucks Bracket Bash weekends.

I am asking that if you or someone you know might have an interest in coming on-board with SOS to potentially help out as a chaplain, please have them look at the website and consider applying to become a chaplain. It is a very rewarding position in that God can use any of us to bring a smile or inspiration to a racer or fan at just the right time in their life to know that we care about them.

Renee and I are very excited about where God is leading us and how things are going in our personal lives as well. God has been at work in our lives!  I have not had any income or unemployment income since August and yet, everything is being provided for us in ways that can only be viewed as examples of God’s goodness.

We love you all and wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Rev. Randy & Renee

Racing Reverend back in the news!

A Higher Calling

New residency program downtown prepares participants for careers in chaplaincy to provide more spiritual support for patients.

Following a surgery for pancreatic cancer, Carol S. learned that her pathology report that was less favorable than she had hoped. She told her caregivers she wanted to see a hospital chaplain — and that’s when she met the Rev. Randy Heinzeroth.He visited the 73-year-old patient in her room in Feinberg where they talked about her life, her faith and her diagnosis. “We prayed for healing, for strength and for recovery,” Rev. Heinzeroth says. “In times of suffering, many of us lean on our faith.”

Rev. Heinzeroth is one of five pastoral education residents in a new program on the downtown campus that trains future chaplains and benefits patients with additional staff available for spiritual support. As the program’s first year concludes in August, Pastoral Services prepares to welcome the next class of residents in September.

“It’s fairly typical for an academic medical center to have a clinical pastoral education, or CPE, residency program,” says Peter Strening, manager of Pastoral Services at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “With residents on our team, we can provide more direct care to patients and their families.”

Pastoral care residents are considered members of the staff, explains the Rev. Mark Bradley, the staff chaplain who supervises the residency program. Assigned to areas where patients and families often request pastoral services — such as the Emergency Department, inpatient oncology and intensive care — they become part of the patient care team.

“Part of the curriculum is learning how to respond to people of different faith traditions,” Rev. Bradley says. “The great thing is that often these lessons are learned experientially. Our patients and their families become teachers of their own faith traditions.”

The five residents in the program’s inaugural year come from a variety of professional backgrounds and religious traditions. For example, the Rev. Allyson Talbert is a deacon in the United Methodist Church. Rev. Heinzeroth is a motor sports minister at the Byron Dragway near Rockford. But all share a common goal: to continue their pastoral education through the residency and potentially become full-time chaplains.

“After my church job was eliminated, I decided to see if chaplaincy was something I wanted to do,” Rev. Talbert says. “Many of the patients I see are dealing with end-of-life issues, but a lot of times, patients and I are laughing and joking. I hear about their families, their hopes and dreams. It’s not always dire, and that has been a real delight of the residency.”

Other members of the care team say the residents have been invaluable. For example, the ED frequently sees patients who request a chaplain, but the small, core group of staff chaplains isn’t always able to handle the volume, says Eileen Brassil, practice manager in the ED. With a resident chaplain assigned to the department, more patients can receive the personal, spiritual care they need.

After Rev. Heinzeroth’s initial visit with the patient being treated for pancreatic cancer, he came by her room the following day to see how she was feeling. Carol S., a registered nurse who teaches at a college in River Grove, told him about her family and how fortunate she felt to have met him when she did.

“I’ve built up my faith over the years,” she says. “But you’ve got to have someone to talk with who knows more than you.”