My Mission Experience in Carmel Richmond

Sr. Hope Therese, O.Carm.

My first six week mission experience was at Carmel Richmond Health Care & Rehabilitation Center in Staten Island.  It is a six floor facility with 300 beds.  I had the pleasure of working in PACE, their adult day care program, and activities.  PACE stands for (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.)  In general the participants of the PACE program were more physically able than the residents of the nursing home, but had cognitive issues and/or developmental disabilities.  In PACE I assisted by serving meals, cleaning tables and helping with their activities.  The activities in PACE were usually more geared toward using cognitive skills.  For example, a game where the participants had to make many little words using the letters of a longer word. 

The participants were very welcoming, kind and appreciative of the care they were receiving and the staff was very dedicated, patient and compassionate.  Activities in the nursing home, as usual, were enjoyable for the residents and me.  There were many games, including a fishing game where they tossed a beanbag in a certain section of a box to catch the biggest fish, a horse racing game where the horses were moved ahead the same number of tiles that came up on dice the residents tossed, and of course Bingo.  Karaoke was also a lot of fun for everyone. 
Living in the convent there with nine other wonderful Sisters was also a pleasure.
All of the Sisters were so kind and hospitable in the true spirit of Mother Angeline.  They were always so good at making sure the pantry was always stocked with my favorite food and snacks.  I was always invited and welcome to join the Sisters in whatever they were doing at night for recreation whether it was television, exercise, or games.

 Every experience I have in a nursing home really brings home for me the value and sanctity of human life.  We live in a culture where human life, especially at the beginning and end stages, is considered by many to be expendable.  Every life is a miracle and a precious gift from God.  Everyone has a purpose.  God has a unique plan for everyone He brings into existence and they must be alive to carry it out.  Everyone has the ability to give and to receive love.  This is our purpose even if the ways we carry it out might be different. 

No matter what challenges a person will face or is facing, God’s grace makes everything work for the good of his divine plan.  Everything exists and happens for a reason.  God is all powerful, all knowing and all loving.  In fact he is full of wisdom, love, mercy, kindness and everything good.  How could we not trust a God like that? 

If you observe nature you will see that everything comes from something and everything goes somewhere.  Flowers release seeds that become more flowers.  Birds lay eggs that become more birds.  A river has beginning and an end, but its flow is never-ending.  The sun rises just as surely as it sets.  Logic dictates that the being that created the birds, flowers, rivers, and sun has a similar plan for us, his greatest creation.  Nothing God creates ever truly goes out of existence, but is renewed somehow.  We must believe the same of every human soul.  We were created as eternal beings.  Ultimately we are meant to spend that eternity with our creator in heaven.  If nature is any indication, what a beautiful place that must be!