On April 29, Al and Marian Boucher coordinated the Senior Day of Reflection for the Lansing Area Catholic Council on Aging (LACCA). This annual event at St. Francis Retreat Center is a perennial favorite because of the beautiful setting, delicious food and the opportunity to enjoy Father Larry Delaney’s insights and jokes. It had become so popular, the LACCA had to limit the number of attendees. The retreat center just couldn’t hold everyone – even when they used all three dining rooms.
As he had for decades, Father Larry said Mass and gave a presentation that day. This year’s presentation, “Putting our Lives Together with Jesus’ Help,” was made more poignant because Father Larry’s heart was giving him trouble, and he was mourning his brother’s recent death. After saying Mass, Father Larry headed out to help support his family. Father Charlie Irwin wrapped things up with the address after lunch.
“It may have been one of the last public things Father Larry did,” Al recalls. “He went into the hospital for his heart procedure and fell into a coma. He never regained consciousness. Father Charlie gave his eulogy.”
Al shakes his head. “You have to be tough to age,” he says. “Health issues and grief touch everyone as we get older, even when we don’t expect it. Father Charlie gave the eulogy as if he were talking to his good friend, Father Larry. He said he expected Father Larry to speak at his funeral.” Next to her husband, Marian nods her head.
Coincidentally, a March meeting had included a presentation on grief. A licensed counselor spoke about helpful things to do or say to someone suffering the loss of a loved one, offered information on area grieving resources and explained how to tell when counseling might help. It was one of a number of topics the LACCA addresses in its efforts to link senior parishioners with the diocese and their parishes in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties. Other presentations have included Mission Sunday, The Way of St. James, Driving Safety for Older Adults and even a bus trip to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. The Steering Committee chooses topics that enhance the spiritual and personal goals of practicing Catholics ages 50 and older.
Al and Marian Boucher (pronounced “boo-SHAY”) got involved in the LACCA five years ago when the representative from their home parish had to step down. “We were in a Bible study group, when we were asked to replace the representative for St. Casimir Parish on the council,” Marian remembers. They accepted, and after two years they stepped up to lead the LACCA together.
“Al and I have enjoyed the monthly meetings. We get to meet with folks from area Catholic parishes, hear what they’re doing and exchange ideas on aging. Each year, we also organize the Day of Reflection in the spring, a lunch at Cristo Rey Community Center during the summer and the Senior Appreciation Luncheon in the fall.
“There’s always something you can do! Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you stop being involved,” Marian laughs. “We’ve gotten to know a lot of people – people we wouldn’t normally get to know in church.”
Al nods. “We’ve always enjoyed being part of an organization that’s doing something.” With their daughter and three grandchildren all grown and raising their own families (Al and Marian are great-grandparents to three beautiful children), the Bouchers share their time and talents generously with their church community. Their love of family guides them in leading the Knights of Columbus Council and Ladies Auxiliary Francis O’Donnell Project, delivering food and gifts to 24 working poor families every Christmas. Al and Marian divide up the tasks – fundraising, planning, buying food, shopping for and wrapping gifts, organizing volunteers. It’s a system that has worked for the past 25 years of their 57-year marriage.
“You need to care about people,” Al states simply. “At our age, we’ve seen a lot of terrible things. I think Pope Francis is a marvelous leader, steering the Church in the right direction. But it takes every one of us to achieve the results we want for ourselves and our children. Instead of sitting on our hands and wondering why the world is this way, or why somebody doesn’t do something to make it better, we can do something about it. We can make a difference.”
The Lansing Area Catholic Council on Aging is the link for senior parishioners between the Diocese of Lansing and the Catholic parishes in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties. For more information, contact Margaret Beahan, coordinator, at 517.256.1303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.