A few years ago I wrote about the birthday party her family threw for Libby for her 102nd birthday. Present at her party were many friends and acquaintances of Libby, including Malvie Hunt, who was 101 at the time, and Genevieve Mahaney. Genevieve died later that year at 97! Malvie is now 104 and living in a nursing home in Waterloo. I commented to a couple of the party goers who were in their 80”s that, “you must feel young in this crowd!”
I feel so very blessed to have had the opportunity to know and serve parishioners like Libby and Genevieve and Malvie their long and eventful lives are filled with so many stories and rich memories that they enjoy to share.
Since I arrived at Good Shepherd four of our parishioners have reached the century mark. Along with Libby and Malvie, Bill Dugan reached his 100th birthday before he died and Emmett Hall was 101 when he died last August. 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 faithfullyvisited. Of the long list he gave me I think only a couple are still living. Many of those on my Communion Call list lived into their nineties! I not only had the privilege of knowing them and hearing their stories but the humbling honor of presiding at their funerals. I would like to share with you a list of parishioners who were on my Communion Call list who lived into their 90 before their death. As I look back at those I have brought communion to in their homes I remember Ruth Finnegan, Henry Rejman, Jane Swarthout, Helen Ryan, Sophie Withers, Harriet Hall, Andrew Cisternino, Mary Colgan, David Hall, Richard Murphy, along with Emment Hall, Bill Dugan and Libby Perkins. What stories they could tell! Just reading their names you might be reminded of stories about them yourself. My Dad lived to be ninety and I quess I sort of see that age as those who are “super-seniors.” Many other wonderful parishioners I have been blessed to know and bring Communion to in their homes never reached the age of 90 but I have been equally enriched by the witness of their lives. Most when through many struggles, illnesses and hardships in their lives, but their faith saw them through; they 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 respect, 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 receiving 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 Moravia. 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 at the Nursing Home; it isn’t just for the residents. Your presence at Mass with them might help brighten their day.
God bless you, Father Bill