FARMINGTON — Franklin Memorial Hospital now has two chaplains after Rev. Susan Taylor was hired to assist Rev. Tim Walmer in providing hospital-based spirituality services.

The hospital hired the first paid chaplain in 2004, Jill Gray,  MaineHealth communications & public affairs manager, noted.

Taylor sat down with The Franklin Journal on Tuesday, May 23, to share her life experiences and what chaplaincy care means to her.

Rev. Susan Taylor is seen Tuesday morning, May 23, in the Franklin Memorial Hospital courtyard in Farmington. She is the new part time chaplain at the hospital. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“I went to seminary when I was 49 and so I’ve been ordained for 10 years now, as of May 31,” Taylor stated. “And so it was one of my paths. I am actually an artist and was a homeschool mom, and I was in the Coast Guard before. I did that for eight years.”

Taylor became a lay minister in 2007 in Vermont, she noted. She went back to the Episcopal church after supporting a local congregational church before that.

“I just kept getting drawn in deeper and deeper to various study programs,” Taylor stated. “One was a two year study program and another was a four year study program. I ran out of programs.


“Some of my friends would say, ‘Why are you doing this, are you planning to be a minister?’ And I just said, ‘I don’t know.’ I just kept feeling called deeper and deeper. When I got The Call [from God], that eventually led to a five year discernment period in seminary.”

Taylor said her husband was very supportive, held down the fort. Her son had just started college and her daughter was entering high school. Wanting the full experience, Taylor studied at school during the week and returned home on weekends.

In 2012 Taylor was required to take clinical pastoral education, a chaplaincy training course. It was an intensive 11 weeks, six days a week, on call program at a level one trauma hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts, she noted. “They say that you’ll never forget those experiences, that you will draw on them the rest of your life and that’s absolutely true,” she said.

“I was called into parish ministry right after seminary,” Taylor stated. She graduated seminary in mid-May 2013, was ordained at the end of May, began serving a parish the end of June. Plan B, if that hadn’t happened was to hike the Appalachian Trail and do ministry on the trail.

“Always being open to new experiences led me to this chaplaincy program,” Taylor said. “I was so excited about this opportunity because I did love the chaplaincy training that I had. But there are distinctions between chaplains and parish ministry and I felt at that time more drawn to the long term relationships that are established in a parish.

“The ongoing continuity of care, the teaching component of it. Being there for people through all of their life’s milestones that would start from Sunday school right on up through baptisms, confirmations, marriages, all that.”


Hospital situations are very short term, acute, counted off in 10 minute increments during training, Taylor explained. “The difference at the hospital is people are extremely vulnerable, often have no connection to a faith community, sometimes facing difficult decisions,” she continued. “They really need someone to try to help talk it through.

“Because we minister to all different faith traditions or no traditions at all, you have to be prepared to enter into that with them with openness and understanding and compassion. Stepping into somebody’s shoes, hearing what’s going on from their perspective, a lot of empathy is required.”

While the same is true for parish ministry, more time is available to develop relationships, Taylor noted. “If things go bump with a parishioner, you have more time to work it out. So it’s a real different kind of a situation but I love the balance between them actually.”

Every encounter Taylor has with a patient at the hospital is a gift, she stated. “Our conversations range from everything,” she noted. “They could be about someone’s fur babies or sometimes I learn about hunting.”

Some of Taylor’s best visits start with the patient saying they don’t need her. “Then you might say something that provides an opening for them to start sharing about whatever it is, and suddenly they don’t feel threatened, we can just talk. It ends up being a lengthy conversation and I’m invited back tomorrow.”

Taylor finds there is some continuity, and always feels enriched after a visit, even though it might be very short in duration compared to parish life. She is quickly learning that some patients who do return for another stay are really happy to remember her and recognize a familiar face.


All care team members are valued by Taylor but she notes they often can’t stop to talk with patients. She loves the whole care team approach, that everyone has gifts they bring to the table.

Since April 2017, Taylor has been serving as priest-in-charge at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Winthrop and as rector since 2021. The church has gone full circle back to its roots and worships in a parishioner’s yoga studio. “It fits the needs of the very small parish,” Taylor noted. “We are modified in how we do things. We have never owned a building in 60 years.”

Taylor is tri-vocational now. She does artwork quarter time, is quarter time for her parish and at the hospital quarter time.

Taylor refers to herself as an intuitive writer and painter. It’s a call and response kind of thing, she noted. “I shift around, delete or add things, do the same thing with my paintings,” she said. “I edit them, it’s a similar process.”

A few things come to mind when comparing parishioner ministry and chaplaincy care, Taylor stated. “The length of the connection and the intensity of the connection, that’s the primary thing but of course there is the diversity,” she noted. “In the parish everyone is leaning in the same direction. In the hospital, the sky is the limit in [patients’] leanings or beliefs.”

Taylor told of a visit during her chaplaincy training she had with a young businessman who had been in a horrible accident. She asked if he would like her to offer a prayer but didn’t know what his beliefs were. “He said, ‘Just pray. You will do fine.’ I don’t remember a single word from that five minute prayer,” she noted. “He said that was exactly what he needed. The spirit just took over, provided the words.”


Taylor’s biggest take away from that early training was to remember to also pray in and pray out while performing the required washing in and washing out when meeting with patients. “When I made that intentional, the visit always went well,” she said. “It’s important to not just make it be task oriented.”

Taylor received her divinity master’s degree at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after earning her bachelor’s degree in art at the Maine College of Art in Portland. She is trained in the following ministries: Preaching Excellence II “Bridging the Gap,” Safer Church, and anti-racism awareness, among others.

In the community, Taylor is a working member of the collaborative art gallery at High Peaks Artisans Guild in Kingfield, and owner of, a fine art studio where she creates mostly oil paintings and drawings in pencil, charcoal and pastel.

Chaplains respond to the divine and religious needs of patients and their families. They respect the religious and spiritual traditions of all people and are available regardless of religious affiliation.

To learn more visit the hospital’s website.

The patient, the caregiving team, all are human, Taylor noted. “I try to be gentle with myself and others,” she added.

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