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Michael Gentile and Mark Degenhart at The Atrium

RED BANK – Mark Degenhart of Shrewsbury has begun duties as staff chaplain at The Atrium at Navesink Harbor, a Springpoint continuing care retirement community on the banks of the Navesink River.

His appointment is part of the Spiritual Care Program which is supported by the Springpoint Foundation through the generosity of both residents and donors.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Mark to our outstanding staff here at The Atrium,” said, Michael Gentile, Executive Director of The Atrium at Navesink Harbor, “with his diverse background, his attention to excellence, and his dedication toward helping others, he is an great choice for continuing the Spiritual Care program that we feel is so important at The Atrium.”

The Atrium is part of the larger aging services organization of Springpoint which has been serving seniors in the Mid-Atlantic region for more than a century. Springpoint holds a LivWell philosophy that is meant to provide the opportunity to engage in experiences which support a high quality of life, personal choice, lifelong development and an optimal sense of well-being.  More than just an activity program, LivWell focuses on whole-person wellness, catering to each of the seven dimensions with a deep understanding of the person’s physical, intellectual, emotional, social, environment, spiritual and vocational needs. The chaplain’s role is directly involved with spiritual and emotional but also with intellectual and social well- being.

Degenhart brings a variety of assets, abilities and education to the long-time program at The Atrium.   He completed the first of a four-unit Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training program at JFK Medical Center in Edison and is currently in his second unit of studies at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.  His goal is to become a board-certified chaplain in 2024; a certification that represents more than a 1,600-hour volunteer commitment.  He is also a student in the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program in the Catholic Diocese of Trenton.  This is a five-year Masters in Theology program at Seton Hall University.  Both his chaplaincy and diaconate studies qualify him for the spiritual and emotional aspects of his role as chaplain.     

Yet Degenhart also brings even more educational and experiential aspects to his role in assisting residents at The Atrium. He worked for 34 years in New York in institutional investment management as an analyst, portfolio manager, director of research and relationship manager, and has traveled through his work to 38 states, interviewing senior management, and touring facilities for numerous publicly traded companies in various industries that were under consideration for investment.

The chaplain’s broad history of lifetime experiences and education also aids greatly in Springpoint’s belief that the chaplain role should also include addressing the intellectual and social well-being of every resident.

 Describing his entire life as a faith journey, the chaplain said he has seen the NYC investment management business, similar to many industries, changing over the years, and saw the need for his particular professional acumen decline. He saw the position at The Atrium as an opportunity to unite his strong faith with his long-standing desire to help other people.

Married to his wife Karen for 34 years, Degenhart practices ecumenism within his own home as well. While he is an active member of St. James Catholic Church in Red Bank, Karen is active in her First Baptist Church in Red Bank. The couple has three children, Kristen, who is marred and has two children, Mark, Jr., married and Karl, 27, all in homes of their own and working in various fields related to their college studies.    

As a chaplain at The Atrium, Degenhart serves both the spiritual and emotional needs of the approximate 200 residents of the community, reflecting and celebrating the many different faith traditions that are practiced by the residents. This includes offering both traditional religious services and ceremonies as well as offering non-denominational discussion groups for learning and mediation. The program is in keeping with the Springpoint Foundation’s core standards to support individuals during times of transition, offer and provide spiritual companionship through continuum of care, honor all faiths with a variety of worship experiences and foster opportunities for continuing creative and spiritual exploration.  Towards theses ends, Degenhart said the program offers individual and spiritual counselling,  additional support especially needed during transition times, and support groups for a number of different specific needs, including grief, caregiver assistance, and Parkinson’s disease. The Foundation celebrates and observes holy days of all religions of its residents, memorials and services of remembrances as well as discussion groups reflecting the interest and needs of the community.

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