Thursday, October 21, 2010

Things You See at the Nursing Home

The Cathedral Parish is responsible for Masses at eight local assisted living facilities/nursing homes.  Of the eight, I have primary care for four of them.  I go every Thursday for Mass.  Today I was at Westhills Village.

Nursing home Masses are notoriously chaotic.  it is not uncommon for the facility to bring everyone to Mass, protestant and Catholic alike, who isn't doing something else.  One of the priests here loves to tell the story of having to stop Mass and rescue a woman who was being choked by another resident who decided to steal her oxygen tank.  People with dementia say a whole variety of hysterical things that are hard not to laugh at while attempting to pray.

The people at Westhills Village are relatively healthy, and most get around quite well.  There is, however, one gentleman who is not very mobile, and he is deaf as a post.  Celebrating Mass with him around is something of a comedy show.  I begin Mass as usual and he shouts, "Who is this priest?"  I proclaim the Gospel, and he shouts, "Speak up!"  I speak up, and he shouts, "Speak up!"  I get to my homily, and I am nearly shouting and he responds, "Speak up!"  By the time I reach the general intercessions, I am hoarse from trying my make him hear me.

All of this would probably really annoy me except for one thing.  After communion, as I purify the sacred vessels, the deaf man begins his own prayers, and because he can't hear, he doesn't know that he prays them audibly.  They are clearly memorized; he has prayed them for a long time.  But he prays them with incredible devotion.  Most of the time, I stop and simply pray with him in silence as he prays aloud.  Here is a man who appreciates the Eucharist. 


  1. Ahhh, us old people. gotta love us.....or we will cut you out of the will! :)

  2. I truly enjoyed your article. It makes me smile as I am a nurse manager in a nursing home and can vividly see the scenario you describe. I do love the old people too.


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