Kristin Davis

Kristin Davis

Sun shines on new hospital chapel

Long awaited interfaith space opens at Saanich Peninsula Hospital



With sunshine streaming through orange-tinted windows, an overflowing crowd made a joyous noise to open the interfaith chapel at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. The official opening wrapped with Amazing Grace echoing off the walls.

Perseverance, faith and vision created the chapel, said Dr. Ambrose Marsh, Saanich Peninsula Hospital Chief of Staff.

“We’ve added faith, we’ve added belief, we’ve added religion, we’ve added those things that add to us as human beings. This makes it even more special to me,” Marsh said. “We can get sharp knives and we can get nice beds and we can get overhead lifts, but when we actually add the last part that makes us all humans … this will benefit us all. This is a great day for this community.”

Long-time advocate and SPH extended care resident Cynthia Campbell passed away this spring. But the overflowing crowd took a moment to remember the woman who so looked forward to the little chapel that took years to build.

“I go to the church services. I would be one person who would use it,” Campbell told the News Review in 2009. “I can see a lot of people using it as a quiet place to sit and meditate. Particularly when you’ve been told disturbing news about yourself, you want to go somewhere quiet and think about it and you want to pray about it. You wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting in the middle of a hallway praying. You feel closer to God if you’re in a chapel.”

Services were held in the dining room where churchgoers had the undignified wait while the last of the scrambled eggs were cleaned up off the floor before service could start, Campbell said. Then they got out in a hurry afterward so lunch could be set up.

“That’s not the atmosphere to have a church service,” she said. “A building would give us our quiet and useful place for church services and also a quiet place where all the people in this busy hospital can go and meditate and just get their thoughts together.”

The atmosphere is sunny in the little chapel off of extended care at SPH.

From the gathering space, to the volunteer lounge  and even her office, chaplain Joy Hunter praised the thought, care and creativity notable in the chapel design.

“We are here now in a beautiful place,” she said. “As we look around we see the light streaming in and views to the natural world through the glass. We’ve been blessed already. The architectural details contribute so much to our experience in this space. The non-rectangular shape, the oak trimmed wood above us, the stone wall … which draws us in with its warm earth tones, the orange stained glass which accentuates the warmth of the comfort.”