By Brenda McCutcheon
Corporate director of Elder Life and Spirituality, Loretto
This article turns our hearts to the faithful who serve in the areas of pastoral or spiritual care in our churches, hospitals, nursing homes, business settings — so many places throughout the community. Aging and spirituality are so closely linked. Elders continually express their desire to maintain the traditions and rituals of faith that have provided comfort, joy, meaning and peace throughout the seasons of their lives.
We understand that those coming to live at Loretto have their own interests, wants and needs for connectedness. Spiritual wellness is a vital component of our offerings in caring for the body, mind and spirit of elders. Chaplains and spiritual care volunteers serve together in providing a ministry of presence.
Spiritual care is a ministry that has hands and feet to it. It is not unusual to be on one of the floors and find a hymn-sing, rosary group, bible study, or a volunteer offering companionship. Our ministry is on the move to meet elders where they are and ensure that we safeguard the life practices that have provided them meaning and a sense of belonging and community.
A visit to Loretto on Sunday morning reveals a flurry of activity as elders attend Mass or Protestant worship. This is a wonderfully communal time as families come to attend church with their loved one. Though separated from their home parishes, they are a part of a community of faith here. Recently, Rabbi Irvin Beigel has come to celebrate the Jewish holy days and visit the elders.
We also join together with our elders, families and staff for many special services including Wedding Vow Renewal and Spouse Dinner, Lessons and Carols, Blessing of the Years during Older Americans Month each May, and Loretto Gives Thanks at Thanksgiving. We also follow the Church calendar with special religious services dedicated to the Crowning of Mary and days such as Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday and many more.
The parts of life that gave meaning to our elders in their youth are still an integral part of their lives, and their continued expression of spirituality through religious practice is central to their living well.
Loretto is blessed that our elders are able to receive the Holy Eucharist daily and have a sacred place in the chapel to reflect, pray and worship. We are supported by many local clergy who partner with us to assist in the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and celebrating Mass. Our hope is to always serve, listen, encourage and enhance spiritual well being.
I gratefully acknowledge and proudly salute the many spiritual care providers in our community who are dedicated to helping anyone who needs them at a moment’s notice. Access to spiritual care leaders is vital to holistically caring for those entrusted to us. It is our responsibility to help create bridges that foster relationships with peers, the community and the world. Our mission always is to provide compassionate understanding for all elders’ joys and challenges.
To join us or help foster spiritual care programs for elders and others in your community, feel free to call me at (315) 413-3364, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, contact Loretto’s Spiritual Care office at (315) 413-3295 or visit us online at www.loretto-cny.org.