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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
March 21, 1997     The Message
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March 21, 1997

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana --- Taking the time to make a difference -- Is it time for a free day? Once a month we have a "free day," she said. And I immediately wished I could have one, too. She and I were talking on the telephone, she from the monastery where she lives, and ! at my desk at work. We were talking over some ideas for a newspaper fea- ture, when she told me, in passing, that she was calling on a "free day." For the members of her reli- gious community living in that monastery, she told me, a "free day" meant that the only obligato- ry activities were Mass, scheduled prayer times and meals. The rest of the day was free. She told me that she had done "nothing practi- cal" for a good part of the day. I have to admit I envied her for having such an opportunity -- and for having the good sense to take advantage of it. By sheer coincidence -- if there is such a thing I read an e-mail message from a man who was reacting to a topic discussed in this column. He said that he and his wife had discovered that they had made a decision which was noticeably different from many of their friends and acquaintances. Many differences in their life style developed after they made that important first decision -- a By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR simple, but profound matter of making an important choice. They had decided to give top priority in their lives to their family. For the couple who put their family at the top of their list of pri- orities, that decision meant they spent time with their children that they could have spent in pursuit of career-related activities. They acknowledged that many others around them did not share their values. Rather than give in to the frustration of being unable to change the whole world to fit their values, they moved forward to change what  they could change -- their own lives. I don't know if they scheduled family "free days" but I do know that they have made a commit- ment to "take the time to make a difference." What struck me was the common need of the human spirit to have time to be "free" of "practical" things. My parents knew such a truth. Sundays were always free of the "practical" and they always reserved those days for Mass, prayer and meals much like the monastery "free day" I just learned about. The days leading up to Easter stand out strong in my memory, and among those recollections was tt what happened in our house on insisted on silence -- no radio, of any type. It was a kind of noise outside, which gave us the what was inside of us. :!: -1: Reflect on the time you have practical demands. Talk with others m about free time, quiet time away from of work or school or even the commitments. Does your church celebrate time together, or does the pressure of separate evaluate parish priorities. Consider the possibility day" -- for yourself, or for your familY.: such a day and make a co Take the time to help a al time free of day-to-day If you have the time, tor for a child who needs to have adult. Spend some time in quiet. Take some time to prepare Comments about this column are or the Christian P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. ------Washington Letter Looking to solve the problems that lead to assisted By NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN Catholic News Service .WASHINGTON (CNS) "Knowing someone wants you dead is more ]etha] than cancer." Citing that quote from Rita Marker's book, "Deadly Com- pass/on," Lisa K. Gigliotti of Michigan was describing to an international conference on assisted suicide how the lack of support from family, friends and society can send an already depressed ailing, disabled or The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville 'I 4 Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Publisher ............. Bishop Gerald A. Gettelflnger Ertor ...................................... Paul R. Leingang Production Technician ............... Joseph Dietrich Advertising ................................... Paul Newland Staff Writer ............................ Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to p.o. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as periodCal mailer at the post oflce in EvansviSe, IN 4770 Pt number 843800, Postmaster: Return POD rns 3579 to Office of Pul,ation Copyrt 1996 Catholk: Press of Evanslle i -! elderly person over the brink. Gigliotti, a lawyer with two serious disabilities, should know. After the mother and grandmother who had been her caregivers died in an auto acci- dent, she spent time in a nurs- ing home as "the only patient there who was competent." "I would not be alive today if I had not gotten out of that nurs- ing home so relatively quickly," she said. "My demise would not have been from my disabilities -- rather from the environment, an environment that society has control over and can change." At the close of the March 7-8 conference at Catholic Universi- ty's Columbus School of Law in Washington, participants got down to the task of exploring some real-life solutions to the problems that prompt people to consider assisted suicide. "Dying is more than a set of medical problems to be solved," said Dr. Ira Byock, president of the American Academy of Hos- pice and Palliative Medicine. "And dying is too important to be left to the 'experts." In his home town of Missoula, Mont., Byock is working with a long-term demonstration project designed to "build alternatives, awareness and avenues for peo- ple to move toward the dying." "A community that welcomes the responsibility to care for the dying will do what is necessai-y to assure that people do not die alone or die in pain," he said. And from a medical perspec- tive, Byock is firm in his belief that there is no physical pain that cannot be relieved. "Symp- tom management is not rocket science," he said. "It's not the hardest part of medicine." Alicia Super, a nurse from Oregon who is project coordina- tor for the Supportive Care of the Dying Coalition, agrees with Byock that dying "is not a med- ical event. We have made it a medical event." " !-'4 :' I , " ,,.,,t/IIjr;t " ,- .%.lJ';" She sees herself as "an advo- cate for care that honors the dying person's values and beliefs." "There are great opportuni- ties for healing and growth -- both spiritual and emotional -- even as the body diminishes," she added. The goal of the coalition, made up of several health sys- tems nationwide and the Catholic Health AssOciation, is to "reform the culture of care in the United States for persons with life-threatening illness, their families, caregivers and communities," Super said. As part of its work, the coali- tion commissioned a national poll involving five groups -- peo- ple with life-threatening ill- nesses, their caregivers, the bereaved, medical professionals and those in the community with little or no experience with the dying. The findings, which are to be formally released at the Catholic Health Association national con- vention in June, "were painful," Super said. "We had no idea the vast problem that we would dis- cover." Summarizing the findings, she said, "We don't know what people need and we're not responding .... The community has abandoned its role of reach- ing out to others to the medical "community." To bridge that gap, Super said, the coalition has created a model of an ecumenical, com- munity-based support network that will "again teach neighbors to be neighbors." "There is great value in the casserole," she said of the neigh- borly gesture to bring food to those who have an ailing family member. Components of the coalition's program include "end-of-life guides" for the dying and "good neighbor coaches" for the com- munity. "There are many we can heal, and many we cannot," Super said, "but we can provide com- passion and care all the days of the journey." H. James Towey of Florida combined his past experience working among the dying for Mother Teresa of Calcutta and as head of the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services when he founded the Commission on Aging with Dig- nity, a privately funded educa- tional organization. With Florida "at ground zero in the aging of America," the About commission" prominent ness and state "to chart  elders tury," The include Miami, U. and Dave of ticipate zn health aging, available to those issueS. ? : i Where to contact your To express your views federal congressional delegations' Call Call your Indiana state If you do not know in the state house, contact For more information, and mailing addresses, you may as the Indiana Citizens for Life, To contact U,S. senators or 3524 or (202) 224'3121. .... Bishop,s s ,,,,,,o. The following activities and events are . ule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger: Mass on Palm Sunday, March 23, 10 a.m. CST. " : Chrism Mass, St. John day, March 25, 5:30 p.m. Finance Council, 26, 3:30 p.m, CST.  Holy Thtwsda del, St. Wendel Good Friday Service, City, Friday, March 28, 6:30 p,m Holy Saturday, Easter Saturday, March 29, 8:30 Mass, Easter Sunday, March 30, 9 a.m. EST.