When a young man is ordained, he has no idea about what lies ahead of him. But then the same is true for newly marrieds, for graduates and for those starting new careers or businesses. So it is not what lies ahead of a newly ordained priest that really matters, it is how he enters into what will come. More accurately, it’s what he brings with him – not just knowledge but, more importantly, people skills.
From the Editor
When you drive along the brick pavement of Flint’s Saginaw Street, you may be left with the impression that this city’s problems are in the rearview mirror. New restaurants and a new farmers’ market are evidence of the investment by those who love their city.
However, in Flint, 62% of children still live in poverty. Half of the city’s working-age adults have not worked in the past year.
Young people are a special gift to the elderly, especially to those living alone in their homes or in retirement homes. Senior citizens who live in retirement homes may be lonely, even though they live among others. Some of them suffer from an emotional “sickness” wherein they may be tired of all the challenges in their lives. Visitors, especially young people, can help alleviate this “sickness.” Visitors of all ages can give senior citizens a precious gift – the gift of your time and your interest in them.
It happened a number of years ago at Easter-time, before I had entered seminary. As the evening of dinner and visiting with family began to draw to its close, I said, “I think I’ll go home now,” intending to return to my apartment in Ypsilanti. My mother, looking pained and somewhat indignant said, “This is your home,” meaning my parents’ home in Saginaw. Oops.
We have all seen TV and newspaper images of people who have no homes and are living in makeshift shelters on the streets or in public parks. Who cares for them? Where can they find decent places to live, even if temporarily? Pope Francis would remind us that they should receive our love and care. One thinks of the dreadful things that are happening to the refugees and victims of terrorists in the Middle East.
During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, I met one of the gentlest souls I have ever known. Her name was Bertha, and she was a resident in the county nursing home at which I was volunteering as part of my confirmation service project. At that time, Bertha was, at the age of 89, the oldest person I had ever had the pleasure of knowing. The lessons she shared with me that summer have stuck with me despite the fact that over 30 years have since elapsed.