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Mar 16 1950 Thursday, 5:40 p.m.

My very good friends, some of you may have heard Dr. Ewart's announcement at 11:00 yesterday morning that Hamilton Presbytery of the United Church had decided to dispense with my services as Chaplain here, at the end of this month, and had already appointed a young man, Reverend J.A. Breckenridge, to perform the duties of Chaplain for the two City Hospitals on Barton Street and The Mountain, St. Joseph's Hospital on John Street and the Sanatorium as well, to commence his duties on April 1st.

This announcement may have come to you as a surprise. But to me it came as a heart-breaking shock when on Friday the 24th of last month Reverend R.D. Smith, minister of St. Giles Church, where Dr. Ewart is an elder, abruptly announced to me that the Committee of Presbytery of which he, Mr. Smith, is convener, had appointed this young man to act as Chaplain for all the Hospitals and the Sanatorium as well, and that my services would not be requires after the end of this month.

It hit me like a bolt from the blue. I had no idea that such a thing even being thought of. I knew that Reverend A.E. Sanderson, who had been giving magnificent full-time service to the three hospitals since 1928, (almost as long as I have been here) and is now very frail, for he is 83 years old, had had to give up that work last year; and that some one was needed to take his place. So when at the January meeting of the Presbytery a motion was presented by Reverend R.D. Smith and Mr. W.W. Brown, a laymen at St. Giles Church, recommending 'The appointment of a Chaplain for full-time service in all the local Hospitals,' I gladly voted for it myself, never dreaming that the phrase 'All the local Hospitals' was intended to include the Sanatorium as well. For ever since I first felt called of God to do this service, toward the close of the First Great War, I have been doing my best to make the people of this city realize that this institution is not just 'another hospital' but something quite different.

I have tried to make them see that while people go into an ordinary hospital for a few days or at most a few weeks, most patients received here have no assurance when they will be able to leave, if, indeed, they ever go out from here alive.

When at last Tuesday's meeting of Presbytery, the matter came up again in order to ratify young Mr. Breckenridge's appointment, I made one last desperate appeal for the continuance of a full-time chaplaincy service for this Sanatorium. I did not ask to be retained in this position. Before the meeting, I handed in my application to have my name transferred from the roll of active ministers to the list of those who have retired and I protested with all my heart and strength against imposing an impossible task on this young man, Mr. Breckenridge, and cutting off this Sanatorium with a part-time service.

I urged that people do not come here for just a few week's treatment; but that when they learn (often with tragic suddenness) that this dread disease has struck them down, it means Broken Lives, Broken Homes and often Broken hearts; that it meant families being left without a breadwinner, when the father is the victim, children left without the care of a Mother, while she eats out her heart with longing for them; that farmers sell their farms, knowing that even if they live, they will not have the physical strength to carry on; that young people, if they are very conscientious, break off their engagements to marry, or have them broken off because the other person does not want a tubercular mate, or gets tired of waiting for the girl friend or boy friend to get well. I told them that even the marriage-bond is not always strong enough to stand the strain of separation. So that husbands desert their sick wives, and lonely wives of still lonelier patients find consolation in the arms of other men. So that if any people in the world need all the help and comfort that the Compassionate Christ can give them, it is the more than 700 patients in this place.

I then outlines for them quite sketchily, for I had only 15 minutes at my disposal, the various ways in which I try to help you to know God as the loving Father whose arms yearn to clasp us to His heart, like the Father of the Prodigal Son so long ago, Jesus as the Saviour who suffered such agonies and died on the Cross that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly, and the Holy Spirit whose blessed name is Comforter.

Then I went on to say "Of course I know that it is the cost of having two chaplains, which seems an insuperable obstacle to those who promoted this idea of one chaplain for all three hospitals and the Sanatorium. You propose to pay Mr. Breckenridge $2400 a year, of which $1000 will be paid by the Home Mission Board and $1400 by the Hamilton Churches. If you had doubled that for two Chaplains, would it be a prohibitive sum? St. Giles Church, of which Mr. Smith is pastor and Mr. W. W. Brown and Dr. Ewart are elders, spends more than $30,000 a year on itself. There are four other congregations in the City which spend even more than $30,000 each upon themselves, besides all the small congregations in the Presbytery. Isn't the amount required to pay the two chaplains a pitifully small sum in comparison?"

"Is not the real stumbling block," I asked them, "our failure to recognize the cure of souls in these vast institutions as a Major Obligation of the Church? If money talks, doesn't it make our interest in the eternal welfare of these thousands of sick and dying people very casual and trivial, like throwing a bone to a dog or giving a handout to a tramp at the door?"

"Is it merely that? Or is it really a Major Obligation of the Christian Church? Let our Saviour Himself answer that. And with His word I shall conclude my plea." "First, hear Him, when at the beginning of His ministry, the Synagogue of His own town of Nazareth, He proclaims the purpose of His Life and of His Church through which he acts today. Quoting that noble, flaming utterance of that prince of prophets, Isaiah, which Henry Drummond so aptly calls 'The Programme of Christianity,' he cries Luke IV 18, 19 - - -

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because He hath anointed me to proclaim Good
News to the wretched;
He hath sent me to heal the Broken-Hearted,
to preach deliverance to the captives,
and recovering of sight to the
to set at liberty them that are
to proclaim the Lord's Year of

Then in that truly awesome picture of the Last Assize, when the Son of Man shall come to judge the nations according to the deeds done in the body, (the deeds done, and the deeds not done) what kind of deeds are these, the doing or not doing, of which shall determine our Eternal Destiny? Let the King speak, Matthew XXV 31-46

31 - When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory;
32 - And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them from another, as shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats;
33 - And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 - Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
35 - For I was a hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in;
36 - Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me; I was shut in, and ye came unto me.
37 - Then shall the righteousness answer him, saying, Lord, when saw thee a hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 - When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 - Or when saw we thee sick, or shut in and came unto thee?
40 - And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 - Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;
42 - For I was a hungered, and ye gave me not meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink;
43 - I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and shut in, and ye visited me not.
44 - Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when we saw thee a hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or shut in, and did not minister unto thee?
45 - Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 - And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life internal.

This was the plea, which, with God's help, I made on your behalf.

It did not get to first base. Reverend Callum Thomson of Dundas was the only man who supported me in favour of two chaplains. Miss Ryan who comes up here from All People's Church to see the Japanese-Canadians, said to me afterwards with tears in her eyes, "Mr. McQuesten every word you said was true."

When I spoke afterwards to R.D. Smith, Dr. Ewart's minister, he said, "Why we're stretching ourselves to do this much!" "Stretching yourselves" I said; and I could not keep the contempt out of my voice. I left him then. For I learned a lot of bad words before I was nine years old, and I have not forgotten them yet.

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Copyright 2002 Whitehern Historic House and Garden
The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
Please direct questions and comments to Mary Anderson, Ph.D.

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