Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!As we publish this first issue of our monthly newsletter I feel as though an introduction is in order for those of you who are not yet familiar with the St. Panteleimon ministry. This organization officially incorporated in July 2010, however God began laying the foundation for it in the fall of 2006. My family and I first became aware of what life is like in a nursing home when my grandmother (“Baba” as we affectionately called her) moved into one after suffering a broken hip. Within a few weeks it became apparent that the spiritual needs of nursing home residents are oftentimes neglected by senior living facilities. Activities departments fill their schedules with Bingo, card games, movies, singers and entertainers at the expense of spiritual programming. Baba was upset that she was unable to go to church services at a local Orthodox parish during this time, so after receiving the blessing of my parish priest, Fr. Dennis Kristof, I inquired with the activities department about the possibility of leading an Orthodox prayer service for any interested residents. The first service was held in November of 2006, and it soon became a part of the weekly schedule for the nursing home. Baba departed this life in the hope of the Resurrection in 2009, but the ministry continues at Westlake Health Care Center on a weekly basis to this day.
While the primary focus of St. Panteleimon Orthodox Christian Outreach is to minister to Orthodox Christians, non-Orthodox residents and their families are welcome to take part in our services and programs if they wish to do so.
We have had inquirers about Orthodoxy from time to time. An un-churched resident who once lived across the hall from my grandmother accepted the Orthodox Faith and was received into the Church by Fr. Dennis. More recently, a Presbyterian woman approached our team after a prayer service and expressed an interest in learning more about the Faith. Instruction is presently underway.
God has opened several doors for this ministry in its 16-month existence. As the number of referrals has increased from clergy and laypeople so has the number of facilities served. Our most recent ministry statistics will be presented at the conclusion of this letter. Ultimately our goal is for the St. Panteleimon Ministry to be of service to every parish in the Greater Cleveland area. Obviously, the most important spiritual care that Orthodox residents receive is the sacramental care provided by their parish priest. The ministry of St. Panteleimon Orthodox Christian Outreach is to provide a “spiritual snack” (for lack of a better term) until the residents are able to receive their next spiritual meal. We will be happy to provide visits and other programming wherever there are Orthodox Christians who are no longer able to attend church services on a regular basis. This ministry is for you, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Please let us know how we may best serve you or someone you know who is in a senior living facility.
Yours in the All-Holy Trinity, Gerald Largent