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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
May 15, 1998     The Message
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May 15, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 :ii ? people who serve the elderly DAVID K. O.E Service longer. care means that well into retirement some leisure years that we didn't we are discovering a inside our towns our own homes: the of older time receiv- or in a medical care This is making an drive at night. are left out of evening elderly also are of bad weather. about steps. And can drive them to we must look at facilities in a new and gatherings. In her own final illness both the older people she had helped and the younger people she recruit- ed made sure that she received Communion and visitors every day. Her funeral Mass was filled with young and old and this for a widow in her 80s with no relatives in town. There is another issue related to the care of older people that parishes are considering: the pastoral care of parishioners who move out of the parish w not to a new home but to a care facility. Are they still our parishioners or are they members of the new parish in which they live? Using what I'd like to call a mix of common sense and kindness, some of us decid- ed that these people were still parish people. As one woman said, "We'll take good care of them as long as they're around." Another new reality in caring for the elderly involves the advent of Hospice care -- specialized care for people at home during their final illnesses. This means that homes in our parishes are becoming the settings for a new, impor- tant kind of pastoral ministry. InLhome hospice care looks at visits from a spiritual caregiver as a necessary part of the care given. But that means more work. Frequent, even daily visits to the terminally ill often are expected. In our parish we got other elderly peo- ple involved in visiting, bringing Com- munion, staying in touch and, in gener- al, being present to those in hospice care. The fact is, we have a human and spir- itual treasure in )ur growing number of older people. like to help people, older parishioners Butit start out thinking of part of the corn- part. rank among our I think of Emilie, htful and upbeat School teacher already organized a group of elderly to their vari- That included trips to hairdresser, the pharma- robe was determined to .r people could as she did. t familiar fi ure around g support, the town newspaper ava liable services Father O'Rourke, a Dominican, lives in Oakland, Calif., and is a free-lance writer. e Marketplace point: the sick, what do you actually do? readers: ters.., we go out to the shut-ins on a weekly or monthly .. We visit and pray together. We also bring them a copy of and a copy of the diocesan newspaper to keep them abreast of parish and in the diocese." Sid Haeck, Mr. Washington, Pa. to the homebound and I visit the sick in the hospital. Plus a take Communion to the area nursing homes each a Mass once a month in each nursing home .... We are an ministry to the families or the bereaved at the funeral at the funeral itself." Sister Catherine Manning, SSND, Baltimore, Md. "It's easy to think of older parishioners only in light of their special needs," writes Dominican Father David K. O'Rourke. since September and since some of the people I take Corn- I'm learning the prayers in Spanish .... At first eraotional doing this .... But now I realize I'm not only helpin 8 too." Josie islas, San Marcos, Texas asks: What are two biographies of figures from chuh his- your area would recommend to readers? ossibl publication, plea write, Faith Alive! 3211 Fourth .C. 20017.1100. "But... older parishioners rank among our great human resources." --- CNS photo by Karon Caltaway Providers Continued from page 8 "We have seen some cases of high "It is the responsibility of all of us to blood pressure and have been able to continue Christ's healing ministry', refer these people to their family physi- addressing peoples' physical, psycho- cians," id Sharon Meister, one of the six logical, spiritual and emotional needs," nurses. She believes "it is good to be able Sister Ternes said. "I would loverS:  OflerkeSay  parishes eventually add health care pro- ting, because people relate wh  tre : : in church. They are not as tense or ner- vous as they sometimes are in a doctor's office or hospital. They feel inore at ease asking questions." Patients and caregivers have grown through the parish nurse ministry at St. John the Baptist Church. "We have bond- ed!" Meister said. "Before, I did not know many of the older folks, but now I know them by name and they look for me and the other nurses." Continuing the healing ministry of Jesus has come a long way from Solomon's Porch, but the hope, the con- cem and the love remain constant. fessionals to their staffs to coordinate the good things that parishioners are already doing informally, like checking on their elderly neighbors daily and providing transportation to medical facilities," she added. St. John the Baptist Parish, Red Bud, IlL, has had a parish nurse ministry since 1993, offering parishioners health care education and screenings. The program's mainstay is monthly blood pressure test- ing by a core group of approximately six nurses. These screenings are lifesavers, espe- cially for senior parishioners who still live on farms. They can have their blood pressure checked at church and do not have to make an extra trip into town. Konieczny is director  communications for the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, Ruma, Ill. Food for Some illnesses are long term. So it is important to realize that the support offered to a sick person and his family by others may need to be long term too. It is also important to recognize that when someone in a family is seriously sick, all family members are affected. What support might they welcome from others in the parish community? -- The support of someone who listens with compassion to their anxieties and their fears. Support with household tasks  cleaning the kitchen; taking the car for an oil change; cooking -- which become more difficult as family members grow more and more fatigued. The support of a smile and praise for giving their family member the best care they can give. -- The support of sound advice  when requested. " --The support of someone who t :! some people want support from someone else who: li the pastor, helping to keep him informed about -- The support of someone commdtted ' SOn. The support of others who care about them and  it. David Gibson Editor, Faith ,adlvel