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Since opening in 1908, Methodist Hospital has had a chapel space in the hospital. Because of space limitations, the first chapel was also used by the interns and bookkeepers.  In 1933, Mary Hanson Carey donated the money for a dedicated chapel space in the hospital. With the expansion of the chapel the chaplaincy program also expanded, by the late 1960s, the chaplaincy department was one of the most active programs in the hospital. In 2021, the Daniel F. Evans Center for Spiritual and Religious Values rededicated and refurbished the walking labyrinth on campus as a part of an effort to maintain opportunities for spiritual reflection at Methodist Hospital. 

Mary Hanson Carey Chapel

Interior of the Mary Hanson Carey Memorial Chapel

Mary Hanson Carey

Portrait of Mary Hanson Carey

Historic Image of Chapel

Picture of the Chapel in what is currently Raines Board Room

Repainting the Walking Labrynth

Painters working on repainting the Labrynth

Mary Hanson Carey Memorial Chapel 

Methodist Hospital has had a chapel space since its opening in 1908; however, because of space limitations, the first chapel became a multipurposed room. Along with serving as a place for spiritual reflection, the chapel also served as a workspace for interns and the bookkeeper. In the 1933 expansion, the Methodist Hospital board recognized the need for a space dedicated solely for spiritual needs. Therefore, they created a space in the newly constructed Julius A. Hanson Memorial Unit for the chapel. To fund the chapel, Mary Hanson Carey donated the money to Methodist Hospital. The chapel incorporated symbols from Christianity and Judaism to be welcoming to people of those faiths. Two of the chapel’s outstanding features were carved in Italy; a 150-year-old baptismal front and a reproduction of sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen’s famous work, “Serving Christ.” 

Because of the chapel’s size and focus on the needs of patients and their families, the hospital rarely hosted memorial services, but they made an exception in 1944 for LeAnna B. McKinney. Everyone loved Mrs. McKinney, who lived at Methodist Hospital for 9 years. After her death, she left a memorial trust to the Hospital in memory of her deceased husband. Because of her contribution, the Board decided to host her memorial service in the chapel. In 1954, the chapel also hosted the marriage of a Methodist Hospital School of Nursing graduate, Esther Margaret Baugh and her soon to be husband, Roman Stutzman; chaplain Claude McClure officiated. Occasionally, the chapel would host weddings for Methodist Hospital staff.  

The chapel became a place where visitors and patients could pray and meditate. In 1947, at the annual Board of Trustees meeting, the report from Spiritual Ministry quoted two letters about visitor’s experiences in the Chapel. The following excerpt from one of the letters shows the importance of the Chapel in the spiritual life of Methodist Hospital: “My daily visits to the Chapel in the past two weeks have been a great inspiration to me and the reading of the prayers and other literature you have available there have been most helpful to our family in our anxious and dark hours. Now that our daughter has passed on, the peace and understanding that is exemplified by you and your little Chapel have assuaged our grief and deep sense of loss” (April 25, 1947). 

In 1961, an expanded chapel offering 55 seats opened in the lobby of the A building (now the B building). At the time, the Sunday services were averaging 41 attendees. The new chapel, named in honor of Mary Hanson Carey, was funded by community members. Like the old chapel, the planners wanted to make the space welcoming by incorporating symbols from different faiths. The chapel contained two stunning stained-glass windows portraying the healing Christ. In March of 1970, the Medical Media Productions department installed remote television cameras in the chapel for transmitting services to patients through television sets in their rooms. 

During the hospital expansion in the 1980s, the chapel moved to its current location in the A West Building in 1986 and maintained the Mary Hanson Carey Memorial Chapel name. At the time of writing, there are many spiritual programs throughout the week in the chapel including Catholic Mass at 11 am every weekday, a prayer meditation on Wednesday afternoons, and a quiet space for meditation available at all times.  

Hospital Chaplaincy  

Chaplains were present at Methodist Hospital early in its history, but the hiring of Reverend Dr. Claude M. McClure as hospital chaplain in 1947 marked the rapid expansion of the chaplaincy program. Although McClure spent many hours visiting patients, his predominant skill was networking and doing outreach with other churches. He also helped bring financial support and nurses into the Methodist system. In 1961, Dr. McClure retired; he estimated that he made over a quarter of a million bedside visits during his tenure at Methodist Hospital. His successor was associate director, Dr. Kenneth E. Reed, who was the first certified professional hospital chaplain at Methodist. Aided by grants from the Lilly Endowment and the Paul H. Buchanan family, the chaplaincy and pastoral education programs became one of the hospital’s most successful activities. The program was divided into three main departments each headed by a qualified ministerial staff: Pastoral Care, Pastoral Education, and the Buchanan Counseling Center.  A direct result of the expanding spiritual programs was a 24 hour, seven days a week, pastoral visitation program. In 1967, Father William S. Fisher became the hospital’s first full-time Catholic chaplain.  

Walking Labyrinth  

In 2005, the Daniel F. Evans Center for Spiritual and Religious Values in Healthcare funded a walking labyrinth with an IU Health Spiritual Values Grant. The labyrinth is located outside of Noyes Pavilion. It can be accessed by the outside doors near the closed Noyes gift shop. Open at all times, the labyrinth provides a space for reflection for patients, families, hospital staff, and the public. Structural repairs to the building below the labyrinth resulted in a complete restoration of the design beginning in August of 2020. In May of 2021, the Evans Center engaged John Ridder to repaint the original labyrinth design on the new surface. Today patients, families, hospital staff, and community members use the refurbished space for reflection.  

Reed, Kenneth E. and Leary, Edward A. A History of Methodist Hospital of Indiana Inc.: A Mission of Compassionate Heath Care. Indianapolis, IN, 2007

Newspapers Consulted:

Indianapolis Star 

Indianapolis News

Materials in IU Health Archives Consulted:

Board and Committee Minutes

The Beacon Newsletter

Image Sources(Click to expand)

IU Health Archives

IU Health Archives

IU Health Archives

IU Health Archives