Between St. Catherine and St. Sebastian parishes, there are at least 700 people who are age 60 or older. Their interests vary tremendously. Some are single adults who have spent a lifetime with the parish but aren’t particularly engaged now. Others are couples who married, raised their children and continue to be active in the church. Still others may be widowed and have health problems.
A committee of parishioners from both parishes is exploring how we might reach out to older adults who worship and look to our two parishes for spiritual nourishment and social engagement.
“While we love to focus on our young people, it’s clear the population of the world is growing older, and it’s time to adjust to serving an older population. We see it every week at church as the majority of folks who attend on a regular basis are older,” says Steve O’Connell. A St. Sebastian parishioner, he is working with other committee members as part of the ongoing collaborative efforts. Click here for committee minutes and other resources.
The group’s 2015 priorities include:
- Engaging more volunteers who wish to serve the needs of older adults, either through the parish or through Interfaith Older Adult Programs. Committee members are cognizant of the parishes’ finances and staffing. The ten members are committed to taking a leadership role as we interact with volunteers and/or refer older adults to Interfaith which offers a plethora of programs designed for older adults. In short, volunteers of all ages will be needed to help us serve our older adult parishioners.
- Putting more effort into serving our home bound parishioners. Our first effort has to be making sure that all our members who request to receive Eucharist at home have that request met. We are looking for parishioners who are willing to serve as Eucharistic Ministers to the homebound. Deacon Ralph and his wife Jane are more than willing to train volunteers on how to serve in this ministry. Anyone who wishes to serve in this ministry or knows of someone who wishes to receive Communion in their home on a regular basis should contact Steve O’Connell at 414-445-7472 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Continue to learn about End-of-Life Issues. Last year, the committee hosted two presentations on Saturday mornings. In order to draw more people, the 2015 quarterly seminars will be presented on Thursdays mornings at 10:00 a.m.. Following each presentation there will be food and a chance to mingle with those in attendance. We will be contacting everyone through the bulletins, pulpit announcements, on-line, and through the parish websites.
- Developing Curbside Hospitality — providing safe passage from the parking lots at both parishes. We are working with the scouts at St. Sebastian and ushers at St. Catherine. These volunteers would be present to assist those who need a helping hand getting to each building. Not only is it reaching out to provide a helping hand, but it is a way for our young parish members and ushers to meet our older adults.
- Collaborating with our two Interfaith Boards. Almost from the beginning of refocusing our efforts to meet the needs of older adults at the two parishes, the overall priority has been the spiritual growth of our older adults. Interfaith meets the social and daily needs of older adults; the Senior Ministry committee designs programs to meet spiritual needs. There are two parish representatives who are considering joining the boards. We will be highlighting the social events offered at both Hart Park and Washington Park Senior Centers. Presently, we are collaborating with Interfaith to insure parish members who are volunteering as drivers for older adults who wish to attend.
- Keeping older adults in our two congregations apprised of the social events and programs offered at the three local senior centers. Washington Senior Center and the Hart Park Senior Center are both staffed and coordinated by Interfaith and the Sherman Park Gathering Place at Capitol Drive Lutheran Church. The committee will also continue to work with parish staff and committee members to host cross-generational events in the parishes. The goal is to bring families together with all the other members of the parish through educational and social events and sacramental, worship, and prayer events.
Their goals were based on several efforts that began in 2014:
- Launching a survey aimed at older parishioners to determine their issues and interests. .
- Holding listening sessions at both parishes to find out about people’s attitudes concerning aging and elicit ideas about how we can serve all members of the parishes while we are more aware of each other’s needs.
- Conducting “Conversations” to learn how to improve our outreach to our older members and our homebound members. The first was a reflection on Pope Francis’ invitation to focus on our call to be Christian to all whom we meet.
- Connecting school children and confirmation students in service to older adults.
- Engaging older adults with young people. Two groups – the Book Works and the Crafters Club – are already meeting with the school during lunch.
- Expanding current efforts to take Eucharist to homebound adults.
The committee meets on the second Thursday of each month at noon, either at St. Seb or St. Catherine. Everyone is welcome, or if you can’t attend, you can request the notes. For more information, email Steve or call 414-445-7472