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Connecting with a church

November 27, 2017
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I wish I had contacted the local Roman Catholic church soon after I arrived here at my new residence. However, changing my address and other changing location online form filling took up a lot of my time. Part of me thought the facility's social services coordinator would contact my church. But an aide reminded me that social services may no longer do that because of the HIPAA law.

This facility has a spirituality program with a chaplain who is also a nurse's aide. The chaplain does Bible study with the residents and will counsel them. Even though I enjoy his lessons, I still want to meet local Catholics and receive the sacraments of the church I grew up in. I also miss the Communion distributor who visited weekly, or more often, before I came here.

As a Roman Catholic it is difficult to stay involved with the church without attending. Catholic volunteers are very important links to fellowships and receiving the sacraments. My first facility had several Catholic residents, and the priest celebrated Mass once a month there. Because the church was nearby, it was easier for Communion distributors, volunteers, and even the Catholic school children to visit.

But I knew as time went on, younger Catholics would be responsible for visiting residents. I wondered if they would be as involved as the Catholic volunteers over 60, who take on those duties after retirement. Both Communion distributors at my previous facility were devoted: one in her 40s, the other in her 60s.

I was last in a Catholic church in 2013. I scheduled an appointment to meet the priest, and to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession). However, the priest never made drop-in visits to that facility. In fact, in the almost seven years I was there, only one other resident saw the priest and received Communion. One priest did not feel comfortable hearing confessions in double occupancy rooms because of the lack of privacy. If there had been another room available for use, it would have been helpful. Unfortunately, there was none.

I sometimes sit nearby when Christian pastors visit the facility whether I have a church connection to them or not. Singing and praying are uplifting. Even the most behavior-prone residents softened their demeanor when they heard a hymn.

I e-mailed the Catholic church in mid-October to ask if their Communion distributor could visit. A return e-mail welcomed me and said a volunteer would visit on Sunday. However, it took a few weeks to arrange things. Communion distributors visited the first two Sundays of November. But, there must have been no one available this past Sunday. Occasionally, the Communion distributor schedule may have slots available, which no other distributor can fill. Despite scheduling problems, when the Communion distributor prays with me I feel more calm and removed from my problems.

I have my own prayer times daily. My grandmother often told me about the power of prayer. Praying also clears my mind and allows me to only think about the prayers.

Kathleen Mears

@KathleenLMears1

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is...

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