Since I arrived at Good Shepherd three of our parishioners have reached the century mark. Along with Libby and Ma Ivie, Bill Dugan reached his 100th birthday before he died. Closing in on age 100 is Emmett Hall who is 99+. I love visiting these "senior' members of our parish community. They all seem to have an inner peace about them, a love of people and an ongoing sense of humor. Maybe those are the keys to living a long life.
When I arrived at Good Shepherd, Father Shatzel gave me a list of the homebound parishioners that he so faithful visited. I try to visit them at least once a month. There have been quite a few on the list who have moved on to be with the Lord, while other people have been added to the list as their health has failed. But I have noticed here, as I have in in all the parishes where I have served in our diocese that those I visit have such a rich history to tell about their life experiences. As I visit with them, and hear their stories, it strengthens my faith and makes me appreciate them. Most have gone through many struggles and hard-ships in their lives, but their faith has seen them through. As they continue their life on this earth and draw ever closer to death which awaits us all, I am encouraged by their perseverance and fidelity to the gospel message and the ways they have lived out the Paschal Mystery, the ongoing dying and rising with Christ.
If you have elderly parents, or if you have grandparents, and great-grandparents alive I encourage you to ask them about their lives. Many of them might not be able to share much about what their lives are like now, but most people seem to light up when they begin to share about the past experiences of their life. While the elder members of our families and parish communities are still with us may we take the time to be with them and give them the opportunity to share their stories. In doing so we show them our love and re-spect, and we might even learn some lessons that will help us in our lives as followers of Jesus.
As parishioners and family members grow older they often deal with more and more health issues so I encourage you to ask for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick for them. If you are in need of re-ceiving the Sacrament of the Sick I encourage you to do so. You can call the church office (364-7197) to schedule a time for me to meet with you either at church or if you are homebound at your house. If you are able to attend Mass you can ask me to anoint you after Mass. I encourage this approach especially when you are going in for surgery or some other medical procedure or course of treatment. I will also be offering the Sacrament of the Sick a couple times a year during the monthly Mass at Howd Nursing Home in Mora-via. We celebrate the Eucharist at the Nursing Home on the second Tuesday of the month at 9:30 a.m. All are invited to participate in the Eucharist atthe Nursing Home; it isn't just for the residents. Your presence at Mass with them niight help brighten their day.
God bless you, Father Bill