February 22, 2012 // Local

What a ‘treasure’ the elderly are to the Church

At a reception after the Mass Bishop Rhoades an opportunity to visit individually with St. Paul’s residents. Here, he talks with Julius Farkas and Rita Bland.

Bishop Rhoades visits Sanctuary at St. Paul’s

SOUTH BEND — Over 100 residents of Sanctuary at St. Paul’s senior living community gathered in their chapel for Mass with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades on Feb. 1 and then visited with him at a reception afterwards.

Before Mass, Bishop Rhoades explained to the residents that his visit was part of his two-year effort to visit the parishes, schools and retirement communities in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

In his homily, the bishop talked about the Gospels for the week that told the stories of the faith of many of the people who encountered Jesus, like the woman with the hemorrhage who had faith that touching the garment of Jesus would cure her. But in the Feb. 1 Gospel for that day, the people of Nazareth refused to listen to Jesus because they lacked faith.

Bishop Rhoades noted that the seniors attending Mass obviously have faith and believe in the word and teaching of Jesus, who came to save us from sin and give us eternal life.

“We know that Jesus Himself is our Savior who is always with us,” he said. “He is especially with us in times of sorrow and suffering.”

Everyone has a cross to carry as part of our journey on earth, Bishop Rhoades noted, citing some of the difficulties of aging such as sickness, illness or loneliness.

“What gives us the strength to continue on? It is our faith. Our faith in Jesus is always with us. He is by our side. His love is greater than we can even imagine,” he said.

“This is what gives meaning to our life,” he continued. “This is what gives us hope for the future. The Lord is always with us and is preparing a place for us in his Father’s house.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades visited with St. Paul’s resident Mary Ellen Madigan as she left the chapel after Mass. She is assisted by Sherry Jorczak, a St. Paul’s staff member.

Bishop Rhoades also reminded the residents about what a “treasure” the elderly are to the Church.

“You are such an important part of the Church, especially for your prayers. I count on your prayers for the Church, for me, for all of our priests,” Bishop Rhoades said, going on to thank Holy Cross Father Herb Yost, who is chaplain at St. Paul’s and who concelebrated the Mass.

The residents reacted warmly to the bishop’s visit and to his readiness to talk with them individually. One resident even told him at the conclusion of Mass that she had been having trouble hearing, so she had been praying that she would be able to hear the bishop at Mass, and indeed she was able to hear everything he said.

Adelaide Gramps, who resides in an independent living apartment at St. Paul’s, told Today’s Catholic that the residents have been looking forward to the bishop’s visit for several weeks, and their expectations were more than fulfilled. She said that it was her first time to see Bishop Rhoades, which was true for most of the residents.

“People were very impressed with him,” Gramps said.

Gramps said she also was impressed that the bishop distributed Communion to every one of the considerable number of residents who were in wheelchairs and could not walk to the front of the chapel to receive. Likewise, Gramps said the people were very grateful that Bishop Rhoades took the time to move about the reception room to speak to the residents at each table.

According to Father Yost, about half of the approximately 400 residents in the retirement community are Catholic, so he was not surprised at the big turnout. The Sanctuary at St. Paul’s has a wide range of living options, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, nursing care and rehabilitation services. Thus, not all the Catholics in residence were able to attend the Mass.

Father Yost has celebrated daily Mass for the residents since he moved to St. Paul’s last summer. He told Today’s Catholic that previously he and other Holy Cross priests celebrate Mass at St. Paul’s at least once a week, but he “grew to love the place,” so he decided to move in, and now is chaplain in residence, as several other Holy Cross priests have been in the past.

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