God’s directives led Deacon Kazmierczak into hospital ministry

“My ways are not your ways”


Deacon Gene Kazmierczak, a deacon of the Jefferson City diocese and recently retired hospital chaplain in Columbia, offered the following message to fellow parishioners of St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish in Columbia on Nov. 11, 2021:

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways,” says the Lord.

After spending four semesters at Loyola, Chicago, I still didn’t know what to do.

I came up with some ideas, but when I consulted the Lord, He just laughed. So I said to Him, “Why the laugh? This is not funny. I need to know what to do with my life!”

He then said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways.”

That interaction took place in 1959.

I was drafted, and after basic training, I was sent to Advanced Individual Training as a Medic.

After 16 weeks of schooling, I became a hospital corpsman. I never ever considered this aspect of life.

Then I remembered what the Lord said: “My thoughts are not your thoughts… .”

At the completion of my service, I was asked by one of the nurses what I would do when I “got out.”

I didn’t know. She said I should go into nursing.

This was the early ’60s, so I felt perfectly comfortable replying, “Nursing is for girls”

Then, I heard the Lord say, “My thoughts are not your thoughts.”

So, after getting my RN, I obtained a BSN and later an MA.

After a successful 30-year career as an Army Nurse Corp officer, I heard the Lord say, “I told you — ‘My ways are not your ways.’”

End Career 1.

I then accepted an administration position at a local hospital. I realized that direct patient care gave me greater satisfaction. I then worked in Outpatient Recovery and Skilled Nursing Unit.

End Career 2.

My pastor at that time in my life asked if would consider becoming a permanent deacon. To make a long story short, I was ordained in 1999 and became qualified to be a hospital chaplain for the Columbia Catholic Hospital Ministry.

In 2021, due to my “advanced age” and COVID, I retired as coordinator of the ministry.

I believe that I was blessed because I was assigned to two parishes — St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish, and being involved with the Catholic Hospital Ministry. In that way, the diocese became my second parish.

I have been asked “how come you only preach once a month?” I preach every day at the bedside, and sometimes I use words. I am sure that when I preached at Newman, some soul was released from Purgatory.

End Career 3.

My wife Ginger and I came to Newman in 1992. It’s time now to be close to the “kids.” We will miss you all and you will be in our prayers. We will be living in Madison, Wisconsin, where our daughter lives.

“My ways are not your ways.”

Be careful what you ask for. You just may be surprised and love what you receive!