our 'senior' population grows larger every day due to changing lifestyles
and greater longevity, the need to minister to the special needs
of the elderly has become a challenge for the Church today.
With the shortage of priests working in overcrowded parishes,
schedules don't permit much time for attention to the growing numbers
of seniors living in assisted living or nursing home environments.
over 25 years, the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts, as part of
their pastoral ministries, have served in chaplaincies which strive
to meet the needs of this group of faithful.
In Diocesan and privately run facilities, they have faithfully
witnessed God's love to this segment of God's earthly family.
...giving a blessing to a resident.
Fr. Clement shares a smile with
on of the residents.
By celebrating daily Mass, administering the Sacraments, sharing
a moment or two of time, they become representatives of the church
family each resident has left behind.
In many cases, they are the only connection to the world
outside, other than staff, that many residents experience.
Fr. Frederick Clement, M.SS.CC. is the
current chaplain at Our Lady's Residence, a Diocesan facility run
by the Hospitaller Sisters of Mercy in Pleasantville, NJ.
Following him through the halls on his daily routine recently,
the value of just his presence was clearly apparent. As he approaches
a resident, their faces most often lighten and a smile readily appears…an
outstretched hand is offered, eager for his warm clasp.
Even with just a few moments of interaction, each has shared
a special moment. In
the activity room, he takes a few minutes to speak to the visiting
wives of two residents. It
is apparent that they welcome his encouragement, support and assurance
of his prayers.