A Ministry by, of and for the Elderly

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Dixon, Mary
Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology
The need to which I wish to respond is one I meet in my work with the aging or elderly. I conduct retreat days for senior citizens throughout the diocese and I have frequently felt vibrations of apathy, of I don't belong any more or I am not wanted. I feel concern because such attitudes indicate both alienation and segregation. Segregation of the elderly in our society does exist. Feelings of alienation among those society considers elderly do exist. These are not just secular, societal problems. We must accept the sad truth that these same problems are present within our faith-communities. There are times when it is easy to feel like an outsider, unwanted. Such reactions prepare fertile ground for a host of other undesirable, and often unwarranted feelings which upset the balance necessary for a happy, fulfilled life, e.g., being unwanted must mean being unloved and therefore, having nothing to offer the community. When such feelings are allowed to persist and grow the natural reaction is to withdraw from the community. The operative attitude becomes the desire to avoid going where unwanted and to seek out those who share similar feelings. This in itself contributes to the feelings of isolation. It can become a vicious circle, one which is almost unbreakable.