We are told that one of the COVID-19 high-risk groups are people who are 60 years old and older. The members of this group are constantly being warned to take the appropriate precautions to protect themselves.
Now that we are adjusting to new “social distancing” guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we can all think more creatively about keeping our older parishioners engaged in the parish. The COVID-19 pandemic makes ministry to our older parishioners challenging and many parishes are investing in technology to stay connected with parishioners. For seniors with internet access, for example, helping them set up what they need to view livestreamed Masses and other parish services is ideal for staying connected.
But while technology can make it easier to connect in some ways, it is not always easier for everyone. Consider those members of our parish who might not have the technical ability to watch a livestreamed Mass. The simplicity of a handwritten note or phone call for the senior members of our community can be an important ministry. A short call or note can go a long way and make a lasting memory. Offering a helping hand to our senior parishioners is an important service ministry as well. Go to the grocery store or pharmacy for them. Take out their trash and recycle for them. Make it a family project to do yard work or wash their car. Many retirees have time on their hands and giving them some creative opportunity to serve would be very beneficial for them and for the parish.
In this time of anxiety and uncertainty about the future, let’s keep thinking about how we can serve the older members of our parish, stay in contact with them and keep them engaged. Your ideas don’t have to be complex or overly-produced. Just let seniors know that the parish is there for them, wants to reach out to them and show them what it means to be an integral part of the Body of Christ.
If you do not know a senior member of our parish, reach out to an older neighbor or friend. Just waving and saying hello goes so far in the day of someone who is not regularly seeing others.