Clare Oaks Blog
Posted: Wednesday, October 5, 2016
By: Clare Connection
Meet Sue Skender, Clare Oaks’ Chaplain
To Clare Oaks Senior Living’s new Coordinator of Spiritual Life Sue Skender, spiritual wellness means that “you’ve found meaning in your life, and whatever you’re doing is supporting that.” That’s what she aims to help residents of the retirement community accomplish.
Just weeks into her tenure as chaplain, Skender set up a program called “Finding God in the Ordinary.”
“God is present in all creation,” she says. “Sometimes, in our busy lives, we don’t remember that.
Skender brings materials to start discussions around various topics for the group, which meets every other a week.
“People have told me they enjoyed it,” she says. Besides being present at Mass, she attends services of other faith traditions, including a once-a-month nondenominational and Lutheran service. She coordinates volunteers to lead a weekly Bible Study and the Ministers of Care who provide daily Communion in health care. She is available to meet with individually with people who want to talk about issues or ask for prayer.
“Sometimes I just listen,” she says. “I’m there five days a week during the day and, if I’m needed, I’m available to come back in on weekends too. I also reach out to families by phone to see if they need support.”
Skender is still in the process of developing additional programs, including an All Souls Day remembrance in November and a Bible Christmas program.
Being a chaplain is a second career for Skender, who worked for 30 years in the corporate world as a director of market research.
“I felt like God was calling me to do more,” she says. “When I was in the corporate world, people would always find their way to my office and talk to me about issues not connected with business. All of a sudden you feel energy, passion and compassion when you know what you want to do.”
Skender returned to school and earned a master’s degree in Divinity at Loyola University in Chicago, completing four units in clinical pastoral education. The Divinity students were required to work in a hospital emergency department, where they were on call once a week. After working as chaplain at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, she came to Clare Oaks Aug. 9, 2016.
During her residency, she met Deacon Larry Migliorato, who went on to serve as Clare Oaks’ chaplain for four years.
“When he retired, he reached out to me and suggested that I come to Clare Oaks,” Skender says. From her first visit to the retirement community, “I just loved it here,” she says. “The staff is like a huge family. They care for people, body, mind and spirit. Everyone was so kind to me. It made me feel like I’m in the right place.”
In addition, Skender loves meeting residents and their families and getting to know their stories.
“The residents are so warm and welcoming, and so grateful to have somebody come and visit and pray with them,” she says. “Clare Oaks becomes a second family for them. When a resident moves in here, one of the things they do is send out a notice to all the residents telling a little bit about the person and the apartment they’re in. Everyone goes out of their way to make them feel welcome. I would love to see my family move here.”
If you would like more information about this very special retirement community, please visit us for one of our upcoming events or call us at 630-372-1946.