Until two years ago, I gave only an occasional thought to those confined to a nursing home. Life certainly can change quickly. My mother is a devout Orthodox Christian who attended church services regularly and had an active life in her parish. As her age advanced and she was no longer able to drive, I made sure that she attended her church every Sunday, feast days, and stayed connected to her church family. After almost nine years, this came to an abrupt end....she fell and broke her hip.
Mom endured sudden hospitalization, surgery, and was now confined to a skilled nursing facility. She told me that she felt like she was in jail. For almost three months, I spent many hours, every day, at the facility, keeping an eye on her medications, meals, physical therapy, and more. The staff was encouraged that someone cared and visited regularly. This gave me the opportunity to interact with both, permanent residents and those who were there for rehabilitation. Very few had visitors, even on weekends. I felt their loneliness. Thank God that Mom's priest visited her weekly and helped to lift her spirits. Other residents became curious about her faith, so she often talked with them about Orthodoxy and why her priest took the time to visit and pray with her. She explained how he made her feel loved and still connected to her church.
Weeks went by and with daily physical therapy, Mom worked hard at being able to walk again. But her biggest fear was “will I ever go to my church again?” Her heart would sink every Friday morning when she would hear volunteers knocking on residents' doors announcing that a Catholic prayer service would soon begin. And, each time that I heard this, I wondered why we “Orthodox” didn't do something like this. Well, now we do!
Almost a year and a half ago, I attended my first prayer service held by St. Panteleimon Orthodox Christian Outreach. It didn't take long for me to realize that praying with and serving the residents blessed me! So much appreciation lights up their faces through their smiles. They are so happy to share their own church backgrounds and family life. This special time helps them feel loved and connected to their church. Often, there are questions about our faith. A new Bible Study class at one of the facilities was well attended.
To continue this important work, we need your help. Please give prayerful consideration to supporting this ministry. Please help those who cannot attend their church any longer. Volunteering is easy! Come when you can. Come and visit. You can help at a service by setting up the table, icons, lights, pass out folders so that those attending can follow, join in singing, reading the epistle, and pass out the bulletins. Or most of all, just come and pray with us. Come and experience the joy of serving. We welcome all ages, all help, all talents (yes, a real “Talent Show” earlier this year entertained residents). We will gladly work around your work and school schedules. For students, we'll be happy to provide documentation for your time spent volunteering.
If you would like to learn more or have any questions, please contact me.
Thank you, Mary Grechny (Holy Trinity Orthodox Church) firstname.lastname@example.org Board Member and Volunteer Coordinator St. Panteleimon Ministry