Time of need

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2008

PROCTORVILLE — It’s when people are at their most vulnerable that Rob O’Lynn is called in.

Quietly he will sit with them, listen to them and offer comfort. It’s what a hospital chaplain does and for the past year O’Lynn has been in the trenches doing that, learning as much about himself as those he reaches out to.

Now after graduating from the chaplain’s training program at Cabell Huntington Hospital, O’Lynn starts this week his new post as a chaplain at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

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“I care a lot about people,” O’Lynn said. “I am a good listener and a very good observer of human nature. I am able to help people see their situation from a greater perspective than they can from the moment they are in it. A voice of comfort, a listening ear.”

Someone who has watched O’Lynn’s interaction on the hospital floor for the past year is Vern McNear, director of clinical pastoral education at Cabell Huntington.

“He is a good observer. He can sit back and observe what is going on with a patient and the staff relationship,” McNear said. “He can make decisions on how to give care. He is a very smart individual and likes to gather information.”

Born in Proctorville, O’Lynn grew up mainly in the Nashville area, graduating from the Ezell Harding Christian School. With a goal of becoming a minister, he headed to Harding University in Searcy, Ark., earning a bachelor’s degree in Bible in 2001.

His first post was at a small church in Wheeling, Ark., for about a year.

Then he moved to Austin to do graduate work in theology. In 2004 he received his master’s degree in theology following that with a master’s of divinity.

Two years later he moved back to Proctorville to preach at a Hurricane, W.Va., church. Last year he became one of four students in that year’s chaplain training program at Cabell. It was a decision that blended two of O’Lynn passions: counseling and ministry.

“I enjoy ministry and helping people and I’m interested in counseling,” he said. “I’m studying a master’s in counseling at Marshall. I can put what I was learning at Marshall into practice.

“I’m starting to see ministry on a broader scale,” he said. “When I envision ministry, it’s helping people in need, people who are hurting, not being bound by a denomination or whether people are believers. They still have a connection to God and need a pastor, a clergy person.”