Surrounded by family, mentors and colleagues, Mario DeLise was ordained to ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Nov. 12, 2014, at Walla Walla (Wash.) General Hospital. The ceremony highlighted DeLise’s journey into ministry and the sacred calling of being a hospital chaplain.
“People do not always understand what a chaplain’s ministry entails,” says Paul Crampton, Adventist Health assistant vice president of mission and spiritual care. “This service was a wonderful chance to highlight both the ministry God has given Mario, as well as the ministry of chaplains in general.”
DeLise grew up as the youngest of three children in Deptford, N.J. He attended a local Baptist high school for two years before graduating from Shenandoah Valley Academy in Virginia. During a 1994 Christmas Eve program in Brunswick, Maine, DeLise’s childhood faith became personal and transformational. “As we stood for the closing song, I could see and feel something moving amidst the people singing,” says DeLise. “It was a very low point in my life, but suddenly I found myself overwhelmed by a sense of peace and fulfillment. That moment was the beginning of a new life for me.”
DeLise attended colleges in New Jersey and Tennessee before graduating from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich., with a bachelor’s degree in religion in 2000 and a Master of Divinity in 2004. While at Andrews University, DeLise met Melissa, who was working toward a master's degree in physical therapy. The couple married in 2002. Two years later they moved to Seattle, Wash., where DeLise completed his first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Swedish Medical Center. Soon after, they moved to Oahu, Hawaii, where he completed six more units of CPE at Pacific Health Ministries in Honolulu.
In 2006, DeLise accepted a call to Howard Memorial Hospital and Phoenix Hospice in Willits, Calif., serving as chaplain and spiritual care director for three years. While there, DeLise and his wife delighted in the birth of their daughter, Rachel, in 2007. DeLise came to Walla Walla General Hospital in 2009, where he has since served as the chaplain and spiritual care director. The DeLises welcomed their son, Alexander, in 2010.
“All along our journey, we have seen the grace and faithfulness of God,” says DeLise. “It amazes me how God rejoices over us despite our frailty and that He draws us in to do His work. It is beautiful and humbling, and it leaves us grateful.”