Thursday, 28 February 2013 10:09
By Father Ken Van Haverbeke
Profile: When Juanita retired, she was unsure where the Lord would led her, but kept an attentive ear to the ground, so when at a parish function she heard about a ministry visiting parishioners and others at the nearby nursing home, she thought, “That’s something I can do!”
Giving it a try, she became hooked, recognizing her need to give in this simple way. What gifts does she share? The gift of conversation and time. Something as a retired person she had in plentitude.
Now the first Wednesday of every month Juanita and another parishioner, Vernie, visit the nursing home near the parish church of Saint Cecilia in Haysville. Saint Cecilia is the patron of music, but because a piano is too big to lug from one room to another, Juanita and Vernie use their normal conversation to make music in the ears of the residents!
Praying the rosary as a group weekly and celebrating Mass once a month with their pastor, this small group of St. Cecilia’s parishioners have built up relationships not only with the residents of the nursing home, but in the past, they have had grade school students from the parish school to assist, creating bridges between generations.
“The residents love to see the children,” Juanita said, “and we make such good relationships with the residents. It’s hard to see them leave when the Lord calls them home to Him, but I know they appreciate us!”
When asked what she recognized in herself to be a part of this ministry, she said, “it hit home for me.”
“My parents were in a nursing home and I remember how much they appreciated visits. Many of these people we visit now don’t have family or anyone to visit. Having a fellow parishioner, a face that is familiar to them, they so much look forward to it!”
Mother Teresa often remarked “Find your Calcutta in your own town!” It is not necessary to travel far to find a place to share our gifts in love of God and neighbor. Perhaps it’s a nursing home just down the street or your own home. One doesn’t have to be a musician to play a beautiful song. All it takes is a willingness to spend time to listen and talk. Something most all of us can do. Why don’t we?
Fr. Van Haverbeke is director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship. For more information about St. Cecilia’s go to http://stceciliahaysville.org/