Student doing stint in pastoral services

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Before Fort Scott High School junior Johnathan Stark began working with William James Schafer at Mercy Health Center, he had no idea what pastoral services were. Now he does and he's glad of it.

Stark got the chance through his on-the-job training teacher Lisa Ward. "She really encouraged me because she had a feeling I'd enjoy getting to know William James," Stark said, and he has.

At the beginning of the year, the 17-year-old Tigers point guard and quarterback/free safety was working with Schafer, Mercy's board-certified chaplain and director of pastoral services for its Fort Scott and Independence facilities, five days a week. This semester, Stark has pared back to two days a week.

Schafer said six or seven students have helped him out through the on-the-job training course. Schafer said his role is to help students learn about Mercy, office procedures and what it means to work in an organization.

"So I do some really fundamental things such as teach them how to use the phone; teach them how to greet people when they come to the office; and have them put out resources around the hospital" such as restocking care notes or bringing mail to materials management where it is sent off to other Mercy sites.

Students working for Schafer may also do some filing and computer work with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

The more Stark got to know about Schafer and pastoral services, the "more I liked it," he said.

"I think it's something special that Mercy has to offer," Stark said, adding he wished he'd known more about pastoral services before he signed on to work with Schafer. Being part of pastoral services has also had an unexpected side benefit of getting Stark out of the high school environment for a while.

If he works at the hospital right before practice or a game, Stark said it helps him realize what's really most important to me. ... It helps me to do my best and helps me stay focused on the main goal," he said.

Johnathan is the son of Cristin and Kevin Stark. He has a brother, Wyatt, who is a sophomore at FSHS. He has attended Fort Scott Church of the Nazarene all his life and is active in its youth group. His grandfather, Wayne Stark, is pastor of First Indian Nazarene in Bethany, Okla.

"I've always felt a calling to serve other people. In pastoral services, the main thing you do is helping other people," Johnathan said, noting he hasn't yet decided on a profession.

Whatever he chooses, though, Schafer thinks well of him.

"Johnathan is an excellent young man," Schafer said. "I just feel it's an opportunity for me to give back to the community and an opportunity for me to learn from them. ... I feel it's important for the relationship to be established to show students they can work in pastoral services," Schafer said.