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Finding Catholic faith in senior living communities

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When Judy Molseed and her husband were looking at senior living centers, the ability to attend Mass was important to them. On one of their tours, Judy saw a bulletin board that said no Mass would be available until September that year. It was May. Instead, she and her husband chose the Greenspring Retirement Community in Springfield.

When seniors move into senior living centers, they may have concerns about maintaining their spiritual lives, attending Mass and feeling part of a parish community.

Several senior centers in the Arlington Diocese provide spiritual nourishment for seniors who want to share their faith.

There are several options for religious activities at Greenspring, including weekly Mass in the chapel or via TV, rosaries, marriage blessings each quarter, and confession.

The availability of Mass was one reason Joanne Madison looked to Greenspring.

“It’s good to know you have opportunities for spiritual growth and maintaining what you’re used to,” said Madison.

Madison coordinates close to 30 extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, several of whom are volunteers from nearby St. Bernadette Church. They help distribute Communion at Mass and to the residents unable to attend.

The service is appreciated by the residents and ministers, said Madison. “You walk into the residence and they say ‘Oh, good, I want to receive holy Communion,’ or ‘How wonderful,’” she said. “It is good for their spiritual life, but I’ve heard ministers say their appreciation for the Eucharist increases by sharing it.”

Catholic residents at Greenspring appreciate the camaraderie. “We meet each other here at church and outside of church,” said resident Albert Heier. “It’s that sense of community and of supporting one another that is very valuable to us.”

The fact that Greenspring has a chapel was important to resident Frank Richardson. “A lot of places have services in auditoriums,” he said.

The decorations in the chapel were the result of several people. “I always wanted to set the atmosphere of the church, so someone made the banner, a priest brought the Madonna image, residents brought things like creche sets,” Richardson said. “It is a gift that there always seems to be someone to step up to fulfill the jobs that have to be done.”

Other senior centers provide residents access to faith opportunities, as well. Seniors at Sunrise Bluemont in Arlington have opportunities for weekly rosaries and Sunday services thanks to volunteers from St. Ann Church in Arlington. Resident Doris Baldwin appreciates the volunteers assisting with the rosary. “We meditate on the mysteries of the rosary and discuss them,” she said. “I’ve gotten so much from it.”

Volunteers from St. Ann lead Sunday services and reflections on the Gospel. Musicians also come weekly, with Mass celebrated once a month.

“It’s an outreach to the seniors in the community and it’s wonderful for people there to connect with the religious place they’re part of,” said Mary Stephenson, who coordinates volunteers from St. Ann. “The volunteers find it to be an uplifting experience, seeing how the seniors keep their faith through hardships. It means so much to the seniors when you come.” 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019