Most days, Rev. Adrian Olson can be seen walking the halls of the Maple Manor Care Center in Langdon caring for his flock of sheep that are not as young and mobile as they once were. He goes where he is needed. Where a soul needs comfort, where a body needs rest, where the lost needs a light in the darkness- he is there.
By Lisa Nowatzki
To honor Olson’s dedication to God and to the Church, the North Dakota Chaplains Association (NDCA) has chosen Olson as their featured chaplain for this year. With true meekness and deference, the significance of the honor is downplayed by Olson and the association. “NDCA membership believes the chaplaincy is a calling. Instead of raising one above another, a worthy chaplain is featured rather than given an award.”
Like many local community members, Olson grew up on a farm near Langdon and, after graduating high school, went to work soon after in the community. He started working for the Cavalier County Memorial Hospital. For the next 35 years, Olson served his community in the hospital setting.
During his time at the hospital, he performed many functions. While employed there he served in the following areas: director of materials management and environmental services, pharmacy director in charge of the computer network, EEG technician, and surgical scrub tech. During this stent, Adrian felt the ministry call amidst being married with two children.
When asked about his calling, Olson said that it was an aching feeling that he had since high school. Olson’s window of opportunity to join the ministry came when his children got older. Able to attend Emmanuel Bible Institute, he began his journey to the ordained ministry. Traveling to Grand Forks, he was able to complete two extended units of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at Altru Hospital.
The Evangelical Church of North America first commissioned him as a chaplain in 2000. Finding Olson had a gift for the pulpit, that denomination set a course of study for him which included some internships as he completed his ordination studies. Ordained at the annual conference of the Evangelical Church in 2002 in Billings, Mont., he continued to work at the Cavalier County Memorial Hospital, in Langdon while doing interim ministry.
His interim ministry developed more in 2003 as he became the pastor for North Parish, a yoked parish of the churches in Calvin, Sarles, and Hannah. He continues to be the community pastor for these three towns today. Olson served as pulpit supply at Pembina County Greater Parish (Cavalier, Hamilton, and Bathgate.) before his present charge at Maple Manor.
Olson commented, “I most appreciate the fact that I don’t have ‘walls’ around me in this position. I go to whoever calls and don’t have to worry about denominational restrictions.” His volunteer work at Maple Manor Care Center includes Sunday worship. He does lament the fact that he is unable to spend more time at the care center.
Connie Hakanson, administrator of Maple Manor Care Center, applauds Olson’s presence there. She commented, “In my 20 years here, I have known and appreciated Pastor Adrian for his love and compassion he has given to our residents and their families.”
When asked about something that he learned as a pastor that helps him do his job, Olson replied, “My father told me ‘everyone has a story’. I love to hear the residents’ life stories.” One of the trends that makes Olson excited is that the denominational walls have become much lower. As chaplain, folks don’t care what your denomination is.
While his parishioners keep him busy, Olson finds time to be active in the ND Chaplains Association. He has been past president, secretary/treasurer and a regular attendee at the annual retreat. When he is not busy with everything else, Olson is a man of many talents. He was a custom dressmaker. Olson quilts with his wife as a hobby. She does piecework while he quilts and binds.
Olson also helps make “Prayer Quilts” with the Langdon Senior Citizens group. The quilts are distributed to patients in the hospital or residents in the care center.
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