Meet our dedicated Chaplains.
Available 24/7 by calling 803-256-5300
Read their monthly Chaplain Chats for inspiration here.
Father Bernard Kyara
Originally from Tanzania, an East African country known for its vast wilderness, Father Bernard received his calling to be a Chaplain through his priestly ministry. He feels its most important for a chaplain to have a compassionate heart as they help patients and families “bear with” or “be with” a burden or suffering. “Our job is to lift the load from the person burdened,” he says. One of his favorite statements is, “Do the best; the rest leave for God.” Fr. Bernard was certified with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains in 2009.
- Bet you didn’t know that… Father Bernard enjoys soccer and music and his favorite movie is Escape from Sobibor. Join him if you ever want to cheer on Manchester United or Barcelona’s soccer teams. His favorite vacation was to visit the Basilica of St. Paul in Rome, and if you want to taste his finest cooking, try his Ndizi dish.
Jimmy Montgomery is originally from Williamsburg County, Kingstree, SC. He wanted to become a chaplain to help provide God’s love and grace to the infirmed, discerning God’s spirit to those in need of comfort. For him, it is most important for a chaplain to listen without presenting oneself as having all answers. People need a compassionate listener… not someone who thinks he/she has all the answers. His favorite question to ask a person in need of support is “What is your greatest love?” It is the most direct route to what the person values in life at the moment. Jimmy holds a Doctor of Ministry degree.
- Bet you didn’t know… Jimmy’s favorite movie is Barber Shop, and he recommends the book King Among the Theologians by Noel L. Erskine. He cheers on the Carolina Panthers and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and his favorite trip took him to Kenya, Burundi and Zimbabwe Africa. If you ever get an invite to his house for a morning meal, take it -- he makes a divine bacon, egg and grits breakfast!
John Schumacher considers Augusta, GA his hometown, but he served for 19 years in a hospital in Florence, SC, and 5 years in hospitals in Atlanta, GA. He has been in Columbia since October 2015. John was called into fulltime ministry during a youth camp in 1975 and was ordained in 1979. During the illness and death of his Mother-in-law in 1988, John was searching for God’s will for his own life and received care from board certified hospital chaplain. That’s when he realized his own path in pastoral care. As a chaplain, John cherishes the invitation extended from a patient, family, and staff member to walk beside them as they face struggles and concerns. “We have the skills and training to totally accept the other person, allowing us to open and hear concerns regardless of who they are or the difference we may otherwise have in our lives,” says John. “Though we have our own religious foundations, we understand and accept that spiritual concerns may or may not be related to God or organized religion.” He likes to ask people what they do for fun. It gives insight to a person’s life joys and pleasures. John received board certification from the Association of Professional Chaplains in Indianapolis, IN in 1992.
- Bet you didn’t know… John enjoys Ham Radio as a hobby and recommends reading The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov. Any of the Star Trek Movies could be considered his favorite film, and if you hear him cheering, it’s probably for the Georgia Bulldogs.
Originally from Muncie, IN, “home of the Ball jar,” Donna enjoys SC, where she can be close to both beach and mountains. She was introduced to hospital chaplaincy when she volunteered in Morehead, KY, and later was a Chaplain in 3 trauma hospitals in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, as well as in a Chicago Housing Authority building. After a break from religious life, she helped her mother for 11 months before her mother died after a long struggle with cancer. Losing her father at age 54 and her mother at age 62, Donna and her family learned to enjoy each day and appreciate each other. “I felt called then to continue hospital Chaplaincy,” she says, and she returned to school to complete her degrees and prepare for certification. Donna feels the most important thing for a chaplain to do is to be truly present with people to see where they are at that given moment. Donna was certified with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains in 2003 and certified with the Association of Professional Chaplains in 2008.
- Bet you didn’t know that… Donna enjoys fishing, participating in Autocross with her husband, and calls Fatima, Portugal her favorite trip.
Originally from Norwood, NC, Kim Thompson first worked as a Youth Minister in two different churches. During seminary, she did an internship at a retirement home in Richmond, VA, and fell in love with Chaplaincy. “I loved meeting people where they were in life and journeying with them. I loved even more not having to prescribe to one particular theology of a denomination; I felt more peace and freedom in the world of Chaplaincy,” says Kim. She then came to Columbia in 2009 for a Chaplain Residency at Palmetto Health. Kim embraces the importance of non-judgment in her work. “Our goal is to provide attentive listening to hear not only what the person says, but also what they left unsaid. We all want to be heard.” Kimberly likes to ask: How are you really? “When I ask this question, I genuinely want to know how someone is doing,” she says, looking for more than small talk. Kimberly received board certification as a Chaplain in January 2014.
- Bet you didn’t know… Kim loved reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, and her favorite movie is You’ve Got Mail. The ‘vacation’ she liked best was driving to, and living in and among nature, in Rocky Mountain National Park for the summer of 2008.
Chris Wade and his wife and moved to Columbia one year ago, after having lived in Eugene, Oregon and Keaau, Hawaii where he served as an EMT, Firefighter and Police Officer, as well as a Fire Chaplain. Chris found his calling while working with a local fire department on a death call. The current Chaplain couldn’t respond because he was starting to feel the effects of ALS. When the Chief learned that Chris had theological training, he was asked to take on the role. “It took me about a month of prayer before I took the position, he admits. “I had been praying about a direction in my life about that time, and the Lord brought this before me.” Chris believes a Chaplain’s greatest asset is listening. He likes to ask people to tell him their story. “I like to hear how God has moved in their life in the past because it reminds us that He will continue to work in their present situation, too.” He and his wife have two children, both in college, and his wife just completed an MA in Intercultural Studies at Columbia International University. Chris is a certified Fire/Police Chaplain and is working on his Clinical Pastoral Education.
- Bet you didn’t know… His favorite movie, Always, is about a wild land firefighter. He roots for the Oregon Ducks, and his favorite book is The Bible.
Sarah Veselee is originally from Cyril, Oklahoma, however, she was born in Nuremberg, Germany while her father was stationed there. Sarah felt her call to be a chaplain when the Lord spoke to her during a time of prayer in 2002. In addition to a year of residency in Clinical Pastoral Education, Sarah has also been trained in combat medical ministry and traumatic event management within medical and healthcare systems. "I believe my specialty is in hospital and healthcare ministry," says Sarah. Certified as a Military Chaplain in 2005, she recently retired to pursue hospital chaplain ministry. Sarah believes one of the most important traits of a chaplain -- in addition to compassion, being a great listener, and being non-judgmental -- is to display a presence from God. What does she like best about Providence? " I like that Providence is a faith-based hospital, unashamed of the God it represents."
- Bet you didn't know... her favorite movies are Silence of the Lambs, Major Payne and The Lion King. She enjoys spending time in the mountains or woods, and her favorite place she's traveled to is Cebu City in the Philippines. If you're ever treated to a meal by Sarah, hope it's her specialty Goat Pepper Soup on rice.