On World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, Catholics recognize the importance of engaging the 'backbone of our parishes'
(0:02) The narrator offers depressing statistics about the state of elder loneliness in America, including one statistic that shows up to a quarter of those 65 and older are considered “socially isolated,” which comes with its own set of health risks. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these trends.
(1:51) One Family of Parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit has decided to do something about this, building community by starting with the heads of families — seniors. The movement began with Pope Francis declaring a worldwide celebration of World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly on the fourth Sunday in July.
(2:55) Cindy Portis, Christian service coordinator at St. Colette Parish in Livonia and evangelical charity coordinator for the Northwest Wayne 2 Family of Parishes, talks about the importance of engaging seniors at the parish level. Portis contends its this group that’s likely to evangelize their family members.
(4:09) Portis describes a new senior group at the Family of Parishes, called “Seasoned Saints.” Portis explains the significance of the name and describes its purpose.
(5:22) At the first meeting in March, attendees were visibly excited, Portis said. For many, it was the first chance to get out of isolation after a long COVID winter. The group got to work planning activities and outings throughout the year, including monthly themes.
(8:41) Eighty-three people showed up to the first meeting, ages 68 to 101. Portis talks about the collective wisdom of the group, which combined holds a wealth of knowledge and experience from decades of life lessons.
(10:00) Liam Neary and his wife, Charlotte, were among the attendees. In their 80s, the couple describe themselves as “roamin’ Catholics” but say they’ve found a home within the group at St. Colette.
(12:15) Liam and Charlotte volunteered during the COVID-19 pandemic to call and check in on lonely seniors, including those in hospice. They describe themselves as “lucky,” because they still have each other.
(12:41) Sandy MacLeod, 82, of St. Kenneth Parish in Plymouth, describes the companionship she found with “Seasoned Saints.” MacLeod lost her husband in 2007, and was never able to have children. To her, the group is a breath of fresh air.
(15:03) The narrator describes the value of seniors to the Catholic community, the glue holding the parish together. They are volunteers, family matriarchs and patriarchs, and faithful prayer warriors who hold their church in prayer. As the narrator says, “Today, let’s celebrate them.”
Reporting, script and narration by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn
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