Message from the Board Chair

Christmas, 2021

Dear Friends,

I’m taking this moment to express gratitude for life and health, for meaningful work, for great colleagues, and for compassionate community. Many of our beloved friends have made their transitus during 2021, so we acknowledge grief and mourning. At the same time, all of our Board members and their immediate families, all Chalice organizational contractors and volunteers, and all Chalice students have, to date, made it through the covid-crisis, thank God.

Like so many individuals, communities and organizations, we too at Chalice navigated both challenge and chaos during these last two pandemic years, the kinds arising in the wake of the vaccines, and local emergencies related to climate change, and the aftermath of state and federal events such as shelter-in-place mandates, masks and various kinds of quarantines. Our Founder Therese Schroeder-Sheker expertly reconfigured the educational curricula to incorporate the dynamic needs of the day, and all enrolled students were able to continue their studies without problems due to the new safety protocols.  

As if the pandemic wasn’t enough, in Mount Angel, where we house the national office, the red alert emergency standby evacuation notices were issued for the fires of September 2020. They taught us to take nothing for granted. Roads were closed and hospitals were evacuated. Therese had packed up harps and computers and watched with horror as dear friends in nearby areas lost everything in the walls of flame that burned family homes and studios to the very ground. Friends were praying for our (Chalice) safety nationwide. Thankfully, after 14 days of fire, the rains burst open the skies and offered relief in Mount Angel, Silverton, Salem, and surrounding farmlands and vineyards. Chalice of Repose Project remained intact.

A mere five months later, in February 2021, historic ice storms downed hundreds of thousands of trees throughout the entire Willamette Valley, causing extended power outages and the need for emergency help virtually everywhere. Many fallen trees created live wires strewn across city streets; most roads were closed. Trees had fallen on top of cars, across driveways, in front of doorway entrances, and through the roofs of home and office buildings, but again, thankfully, the Chalice office was spared. (Nine trees politely fell around automobile and physical location but not on them).  

Recently, though not weather-related, Mount Angel suffered a very destructive fire in October of 2021, but the fabulous work of Oregon fire fighters who streamed in from multiple counties statewide saved the day. They worked through the entire night to contain the conflagration, and no human life was lost. Sadly, an entire historical block of Mount Angel was destroyed in a community that had already suffered economic setbacks during covid-related closures. The news reported how entire businesses, family businesses, were wiped out, and we at Chalice marvel at the way individuals in the local community have responded. The intensity of these three seemingly unrelated events in a short period of time underscores a primary reality that is central to the work of caring for physical and spiritual needs of the dying, even if not obviously so. Dealing with impermanence is central to our work, and entering the Unknown is another.

These emergency events caused us to recognize both hallmarks and to expand focus to implement long-range solutions. It is not nearly pro-active enough to digitize corporate, educational, clinical and financial records, or to back them up daily on servers. Even a small organization needs more.  

In November of 2021, our long-term IT Officer Justin Waters of ArmaHosts began migrating the entirety of the Chalice of Repose Project’s digitized history to four separate locations, each situated thousands of miles apart from one another. Justin is a quiet man, but in an admixture of seriousness and wry humor, he turned to Therese at one point and said: “This is as pro-active as is humanly possible at this time in history. If the West Coast has the earthquake and the East Coast has the hurricane, you are still going to have redundancy in Amsterdam and Finland.”

We have so much to be thankful for. In addition to Justin’s expertise, in December, we asked the musician and visual artist Carol Statella of Statella Design in Atlanta to build a new website for Chalice. (The old one was built on a program that had expired). We even had a donor step up and contribute to help make it happen. Thank you, Lora Lee! Now we have the peace of mind that corporate redundancies, a fresh website, thriving students, and a circle of healthy colleagues provide.

I am deeply aware that people are grieving the loss of life associated with covid and its variants, as well as the continued anxiety and uncertainty associated with pandemic unknowns.

Therese’s work in music-thanatology is approaching the fifty-year mark, (with 19 years in Denver, 10 years in Missoula, and now 19 years in Mount Angel, Oregon). I have gained fresh perspective by combining this decades-long sustained effort with the several very recent layers of progress described in this letter.

It renews the faith, hope and courage required to continue the mission and work of the Chalice of Repose Project regardless of the difficult times in which we live. I am going to be able to enter and celebrate the upcoming holy days and holidays in authenticity. I am humbled, yet still feel enormous gratitude and awe.

On behalf of this organization, I send our warmest wishes to all,

Carol Hegedus
Chairperson, Chalice of Repose Project Board of Directors

Last Updated January 2022

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