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2009 Press Releases

Hospital Chaplain Leaves His Mark

“Englewood Hospital was my first assignment as a hospital chaplain. I believe I was called to this work. It is powerful, but also humbling to think that as I enter a patient room I will be seen as God's representative to persons in need. It is my hope always to demonstrate my interest in them, and by doing so, to illustrate the compassion and desire that God has for their wholeness in body, mind and spirit."

The Reverend Calvin Tysen, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center

It is difficult to remember life at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center without the Reverend Calvin Tysen, its chaplain and head of Pastoral Services since 1984.

“He is the office,” said the Reverend Dr. Joseph Allen, chairman of the Chaplaincy Committee and priest and pastor of St. Anthony Orthodox Church in Bergenfield. Father Joe has been serving the committee for almost 40 years, and distinctly remembers sitting on it when Rev. Tysen was selected. “We wondered aloud who would be able to fill the shoes of the exceptionally capable chaplain who was leaving, the Reverend Tore Fryhle.”

“Cal impressed us as an excellent candidate, a sensitive, compassionate person well qualified to handle the responsibilities of the chaplain’s office,” he continued. “We realized then what it took to do the job, to be this very important part of the healing team. It has been wonderful to see the very good results of that decision.”

Twenty-five years later, the search is on for a successor to Rev. Tysen as his September retirement date quickly approaches. He will leave behind the legacy of a distinguished tenure as the Medical Center’s pastor, religious leader and spiritual advisor.

A major highlight has been the transition of his department into a truly interfaith ministry. “What was once largely a four-faith chaplaincy (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox and Jewish) is now an all-faith chaplaincy,” said Father Joe. The members of the chaplaincy committee, which oversees the work of the chaplain, are well aware and desirous of meeting the religious and cultural requirements of any religious faith. For example, to accommodate a growing Muslim presence, a Muslim representative was recently added.

The Reverend Francis S. Bancroft III, retired pastor of St. James Episcopal Church in Ridgefield, worked closely with Rev. Tysen for many years before retiring to Cape Cod. “Englewood Hospital was always known for its family atmosphere,” remembers Father Bancroft. “Cal was part of that, always there for patients in times of sorrow and joy, to comfort and to rejoice. He worked exceptionally closely with the doctors and nurses, acting as a liaison. He was eminently available to those who needed him. It is meaningful and by design that visitors are welcomed by the chaplain’s office soon after they enter the hospital by the Main Lobby.

“My own family experienced the bounty of his ministry when my father, who was visiting from Delaware with my mother, fell ill and was hospitalized,” he continued. “Cal kept close watch to make sure my father had everything he needed, just as he did when I was a patient.” Rev. Tysen’s ministry has not been contained by the walls of the hospital.  “I was always particularly impressed by Cal’s outreach to area churches to make them aware of how the chaplaincy works and its need for support. His desire to serve made him a well-received and effective ambassador for the hospital,” Father Bancroft noted.

Countless responsibilities have filled Rev. Tysen’s busy days, including visiting patients, providing for their religious and spiritual needs, counseling patients and staff on any of a variety of personal matters, and holding weekly services in the chapel that are televised via closed-circuit. He also works with the many local clergy who visit hospitalized congregants and directs the efforts of the paid and volunteer staff of his department. Twice-yearly conferences for colleagues and healthcare professionals on pressing healthcare issues have been an important part of his ministry.

He has shared his insights and expertise through participation in numerous hospital committees, such as the Ethics Committee, of which he has been a 20-year member. The hospital’s commitment to holistic care, which embraces the belief that a person’s physical condition cannot be separated from his spiritual side, has been fertile ground for his ministry.

Establishing Volunteer Visitors in the early 1990s has been a major highlight of his tenure. Trained volunteers visit patients who do not list a religious affiliation when admitted. The goal is to determine if the patient desires pastoral services. “We make sure we visit every in-patient to see if we can be of assistance,” said Rev. Tysen.

Rabbi Bruce S. Block, rabbi emeritus of Temple Sinai in Tenafly, is one of the area’s Jewish leaders who has worked with Rev. Tysen. “I’ve known him for almost 20 years,” said Rabbi Block, who often came to the hospital to visit his congregants. “When I retired, I asked how I could help further the work of the chaplain’s office. I became a member of the chaplaincy committee, and am proud and pleased to help celebrate Chaplain Tysen's 25 years of service. He is a deeply spiritual man who is kind and compassionate, true to his own faith and respectful of the beliefs of others."

“For 25 years, Reverend Tysen has been a vital member of the healthcare team, a skilled counselor, a respected adviser and, above all, a caring spiritual leader,” said Douglas A. Duchak, president and CEO of the Medical Center. “We wish him, our ‘pastor to all,’ a healthy, happy and full retirement, and thank him for his many years of dedicated service.”

Reverend Calvin Tysen: A Brief Autobiography
I moved to Englewood from Michigan in 1984 with my wife, Audrey, whom I married a few years out of college, our son Kevin, who had just graduated from high school, and our daughters, Lisa, Toni and Tracy, who all attended local schools. Three of our children are college graduates and married, and, collectively, they have given us four grandchildren.

I came from a family in which there were several ministers, so ministry was "in my blood." My father was a very caring man, sensitive to the hurts and needs of people, and for several years after retiring from active church ministry, he took a position as chaplain in a hospital connected with the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

One of the real joys of my life outside of my family and church, although not separate from either, is my appreciation of, and participation in, music. From early life, music was also in my blood. Singing in junior choir in church led to joining the senior choir. The high school and college groups I sang with gave me greater appreciation for the music of the ages. I joined the Ars Musica Chorale when I came to Bergen County, and have sung with them for 24 years, serving as a section leader and board member. Both Audrey and I are involved in music with our church, the Clinton Avenue Reformed Church in Bergenfield, where she is the organist. We have both become puzzle addicts in recent years, mostly the daily crosswords. I have always been a sports buff as well.
 
Our "special" daughter, Tracy, lives at home with us, and fills our lives with love and attention. She attends a day program, New Concepts for Living. Tracy will relocate with Audrey and me when we retire to Ohio in September.

Englewood Hospital was my first assignment as a hospital chaplain. I believe I was called to this work. It is powerful, but also humbling to think that as I enter a patient room I will be seen as God's representative to persons in need. It is my hope always to demonstrate my interest in them, and by doing so, to illustrate the compassion and desire that God has for their wholeness in body, mind and spirit.