Caffrey passion brings him to Cleveland
by BETTIE MARLOWE, Banner Staff Writer
Jun 12, 2012 | 1701 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chaplain Carl Caffrey
Chaplain Carl Caffrey
Carl Caffrey was studying finance at St. John’s University — “I was on my way to Wall Street” — when he underwent a drastic life change. He said he was going to be a rich man, but after an experience of being “radically saved and set on fire for God,” his passion turned to fulfilling another calling and purpose — ministry.

Caffrey was raised Catholic by an Irish policeman and, Jacqueline, his wife of 23 years, was raised Jewish and is a Messianic Christian.

They met in high school and started dating in college. A month after marrying, the Caffreys came to Cleveland and he enrolled in the Church of God Theological Seminary (1988-1992). It was the beginning of “fulfilling my destiny,” he said, referring to Malachi 4:6: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

That was 22 years ago. In the meantime, he earned his master’s of divinity and master’s of theology degrees in Richmond and the Union Theological Seminary. Caffrey planted and served as pastor of a church in upstate New York. He also directed the Master’s Commission Program in California at the Bible College for five years. He returned to Cleveland in 2003 to serve on staff at Westmore Church of God as missions pastor, where he served seven years. Basically, he is an ordained bishop in the Church of God.

Caffrey has served as chaplain at Signature HealthCare two years. In addition to his position, he is a part-time staff member at Lee University — teaching theology, ethics and Bible.

“I enjoy teaching,” he said. “I love being coach and encouraging people — to live out my calling and destiny in Christ,” he added. “My passion to lift up people.”

And it is this passion bought out by the Malachi Scripture, which Caffrey calls his mainstay and anchor, which ties everything together for his ministry — full time at Signature (turning old heads) and at Lee (young hearts). “It’s a great fit,” he said.

He said he was delighted when the chaplaincy position opened up at Signature. “I was excited to fulfil that part of calling,” he said. “I am honored to serve this segment of people — ‘mothers and fathers’ in the faith. He said the grandmothers and grandfathers becomes family.

There are 100 residents in the health care facility and Caffrey said he has a chance to visit members of family, even in hospital, as well as the 130 employees and colleagues and their families. He said he feels blessed to have this pastoral opportunity and the congregation expands quickly when you include the families.

Every week Caffrey has the chance to do family time with residents at “their home.” They gather in the “living room,” he said, and share the love of God.

In addition to his regular duties, he visits the sick, including hospital visitation. With a pastor’s heart, praying and standing with the families during the end-of-life times is important to him.

“I love people,” the chaplain said. “I enjoying spending time with them and listening to great stories of heritage.

And he is blessed, he said, with student volunteers from the Church of God Theological Seminary and Lee University, who partner with him in visitation. About 50 or 75 students come to spend time with residents, Caffrey said.

“When volunteers are exposed (to the residents), they fall in love with them.” Most, he added, come back on their own time to show love, especially to this generation — “turning hearts.”

God’s love, he said, makes it happen. He tells those he ministers to that “fruit is always the ripest before falling off the tree.” He lets them know God is not finished with them yet and this is “a powerful opportunity to shine for Jesus in last days of your lives.” He said listening, recognizing key skills and honoring their stories dignifies the elderly. He adds, they deserve such honor.

Caffrey hopes — he’s just beginning — to write about passion for a book on the Malachi Scripture in relation to the young and older generations.

To young people, he advises, “The Lord’s plans are always best, (Jeremiah 29:11).” He tells them God’s love for us can really guard and guide our lives. “Use the gifts God has bleed you with for His glory,” he added.

He quotes Joni Erickson Tada: “You determine your depth in God and Hell determine your width.”

Caffrey said he wants to encourage young people to follow God, giving best of their lives.

The Caffreys have a daughter, Rachel, who is receiving her master’s in counseling at the University of Georgia, and a son, Matt, a graduate of Walker Valley High School. His son is following in his footsteps and recently, with high school friends, organized and led a youth revival.

“It’s a God thing,” he said. And, Matt asked his dad to be the speaker one night to about 150 young people who gathered at Cornerstone Church.