Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Summer Camps for Senior Members of the Congregation

In Korea most parishes have summer camp for children. Older children--grammar, middle and high school students--usually have separate programs and attend camp at different times. Occasionally, family camps are provided so parents can go with their children. Now there are camps for those over 65 who are in good health.

A  priest writing for the priest bulletin mentions that it was the 6th time such a program was being offered, and this year 60 attended. Religious sisters were responsible  for the program which consisted of Mass, talks, visits to the Blessed Sacrament and visiting martyrs' shrines, and many other activities were available. It was a time to recharge their energy level, to look over their lives and to see themselves with new eyes.

Our parishes, both in the country and city, have an aging population. These Christians have been instrumental in the growth of the Church, and efforts should be made, the priest says, to make their later years profitable and prepare them for their twilight years.

Many of them--grandfathers and grandmothers, fathers and mothers--remain on the farms while the children have gone off to the cities to work and live. The parents continue to farm and do the daily chores, and wait for the occasional visit of their children. It is for many of them a lonely time.

The priest would like to change this situation by having the diocese and religious orders take a more active interest in the unique problems and concerns of seniors. Helping them to continue to find meaning in life without their children would be a worthwhile goal.

There is no questioning the Koreans  respect for seniors, but many times it is hands-off-respect. Programs usually have a cut-off age limit: age not health determines who may attend. We do have retreat programs, but they are not welcoming to the seniors,  and  the older people  know  their presence will not be good for the atmosphere that is desired. Having programs specifically for seniors, the priest advises, would be a wise move on the part of the Church and would be welcomed by all seniors.

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