Local priest serves as chaplain for Marlborough Fire Department
By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Most people know the Venerable (Father) Michael J. McKinnon as archdeacon and rector of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 52 Church St., but what they may not know is that he also serves as chaplain of the Marlborough Fire Department.
McKinnon said that his church family is very supportive of his ministry as the chaplain of the Fire Department. Once a year they have a Mass specifically to pray for and honor the men and women who serve in uniform. It is something which, he said, the church family looks forward to.
As chaplain, McKinnon said that he is on call for the members of the Fire Department and their families 24 hours a day.
“I’m there if they need someone to listen, to offer counsel or to provide a service such as baptizing a child,” he said. “I also attempt to provide spiritual support for those who desire it. Some calls are harder than others for our firefighters. Sometimes, having someone to listen or simply acknowledge that fact can go a long way. It helps to debrief sometime.”
McKinnon is no stranger to service. His father was a volunteer firefighter, his uncle was a police officer and two of his sisters served on the volunteer ambulance. He said that he was raised to respect and honor first responders.
“I am blessed to serve those who serve our community, I admire their calling and their willingness to place others before themselves, even strangers, and to help those who often cannot help themselves. I also believe it is important for clergy and churches to be a presence in and support the community,” McKinnon said.
McKinnon said that it is a great honor to be available for the firefighters who put their lives on the line at a moment’s notice, putting themselves in harm’s way to help others in need. He is always willing to help people in the middle of an emergency in any way that he can. It can be a comfort to some people to have someone to talk to and even share their fears with. Sometimes, he said, just assuring someone of your prayers can be of great comfort. McKinnon’s primary ministry is to the firefighters themselves and to their families.
As chaplain, McKinnon offers encouragement and support to local first responders. He described the 10th anniversary of 9/11 as having a profound impact on him. As the Marlborough Fire Department chaplain, he was asked to offer the benediction at the anniversary ceremony on Sept. 11, 2011.
“I was so honored to march along side our firefighters and other first responders and to remember those who lost their lives on that horrible day, including many first responders who gave their lives to save others. Jesus says, ‘Greater love has no man, than to lay his life down for his friends.’ These are people who are willing to lay their lives down for strangers,” When the Marlborough Fire Department unfurled the Stars and Stripes, I was deeply moved. ‘Lest we forget.’”
Through his role as chaplain, McKinnon has come to realize that firefighters are ordinary men and women who are willing to do extraordinary things at a moments notice. They treat strangers as if they were members of their own family.
“To me,” McKinnon said, “that is the definition of a hero. For them, it is not a job, but a calling.
“Most of the time, I just drop in for coffee, say ‘Hello,’ and let them know that somebody cares about them and acknowledges the difficult job that they have. These men and women are heroes in my book.”
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