As part of our pastoral formation for priesthood at Saint John Vianney College Seminary, a group of us comes to the Little Sisters of the Poor Holy Family Residence each Monday during this fall semester to serve the elderly. Each week, we visit with those who are in residence on the second and third floors and eat dinner with them that evening. Many are delighted to have us and welcome us most graciously. During that time, we converse about family, friends, and experiences of life, and we often help them with any small task they are unable to do. Sometimes we play cards or bananagrams (a game that is like scrabble and crossword puzzles combined), and we even bounced a ball around to each other one time. After visiting, we go and share a meal with them.
Our experience at Holy Family Residence has been a grace filled experience. The witness of the Sisters to act out of a deep love for God through their service to the elderly is an example for the entire staff and all those like us who are coming to serve the elderly. The mission of the Sisters is clear, to provide a place where the elderly are cared for and loved, following the example of Jesus. The Residents, by the witness of their lives, inspire us to live our own Faith, and the witness of the priests in residence encourages us to devote ourselves to the formation we are receiving in seminary. Having the opportunity to learn to love those who are weaker and more vulnerable has been an exercise of pastoral charity that has helped us in that formation. When we walk into a residents’ room, we are coming to know how Jesus is in them and how he resides in and works through us to serve them. It has been a valuable experience and a gift.