A Healing Presence

I have always known that the presence of even one SFP makes a difference in the lives of the people around her…and this belief is confirmed once again by the impact our Sisters Rita Donnelly and Frances Delaney have on the lives of the other residents of their assisted living facility in Brighton Gardens, New Jersey.

Both of then remain quite active and live very full lives: attending daily liturgies, singing in the choir, assisting with parish activities, helping with fund-raising efforts, critiquing homilies at the Archdiocesan Seminary, and acting as a voice for the voiceless at Brighton Gardens. In this latter area, their contributions are priceless for other residents.

Just in the past few weeks, they have:
1) asked the priest who celebrates monthly mass there to hear confessions before each Mass; 2) asked the Administrator to have a dietitian visit with residents on a more frequent and timely basis to ascertain their dietary needs; and 3) participated with others in saying the Rosary several times a week.

The Director of Recreation at Brighton Gardens shared the following with me about Sr. Rita: Regardless of their religious affiliation, Sr. Rita advocates for all the residents. She considers them to be part of her ‘living family’ and cares deeply for each one. As you can well imagine, the facility is always transporting one of the residents to the hospital for a variety of reasons. Quite naturally, the other residents are concerned and want to know what has happened to the person. However, because of HIPAA regulations, no one will tell them anything…

So they worry and fret until the person either dies or returns to Brighton Gardens and fills them in on what happened. In the event that someone has died, some of the residents tried to get to the funeral home, but most could not make it…and yet they, too, grieved and wanted to say goodbye.

So, Sr. Rita suggested that there be a memorial service at Brighton Gardens itself for each resident who dies. The service consists of Scripture Readings and a prayer service during which residents can remember and memorialize the death of their friend. The families of the departed are invited – and each family member is given a rose. It means a great deal to the residents – and to the families.

I thanked the Director for the story – and also for listening to Sr. Rita’s suggestion. It is closure and healing for every one…

In Blessed Frances, your Sister, Anita McArdle

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1 comment:

JJ said...

This is such a beautiful story. Sr. Rita was a strong advocate for the sick and Suffering at St. Mary Hospital in Hoboken - It doesn't surprise me that she continues to minister at Brighton Gardens.
Thank you for sharing it !