WIFR: The Comeback Kids: Ben Danielson

ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) — Sometimes it takes us a few years to figure out what our true passion in life really is. For comeback kid Ben Danielson, his passion for helping people brought him back home to the stateline where he’s using his faith to help heal patients at Mercyhealth.

“If you’re really doing what you’re called to be doing and you’re doing something that you really enjoy you might be surprised and find that it might lead you back to Rockford,” said chaplain services manager for Mercyhealth Ben Danielson.

Loves Park native Ben Danielson was surprised his career path led him back to the stateline.

“I feel like some of my friends after high school and college they definitely took off and didn’t look back,” said Danielson.

And Ben did the same. After graduating from Boylan Catholic High School he studied at Rock Valley College before attending Loras College in Iowa.

“After that I decided actually to enter seminary. So I spent four years studying for the Diocese of Rockford. I spent two years studying in a little seminary in Lincoln, Nebraska and then I spent two years in Rome studying theology.

But the seminary and the priesthood just didn’t seem to fit. He returned to the states to get his master’s degree at Saint John’s University in Minnesota, where he discovered his true passion.

“Up in Collegeville I had to do a semester of hospital chaplaincy. When I had to do that I was like ugh hospital chaplaincy what’s that going to be like? So I enrolled in a program actually at this campus here at Rockton Avenue and really fell in love with it, learned a lot and found it was fulfilling work that really called to me.”

Soon a position opened at Mercyhealth’s Javon Bea Hospital Rockton and beckoned Ben home.

“It seemed like the right opportunity came along to return to Rockford and draw on my previous experience and it just gives me something worthwhile.”

Being a part of the Mercyhealth family brings Ben’s life full circle.

“My mom worked here for 30 years or so. She was a nurse here for a long time. I was a volunteer here as well when I was in high school, I sat at the front desk and gave people directions on how to find a room.”

Now he helps patients in a different way.

“It feels very comforting, I feel like I’m called to be here. Sometimes you have the conversations where people don’t need anything and other times it’s rewarding when you can break through that.”

Having been in town a few weeks, Ben is ready to make an impact using his faith to help heal.

“Not every day is a joy. Some days are pretty tough but other days are pretty good and you’re really seeing big moments in people’s lives and I found myself thinking yes this is what I’ve been wanting.”

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