"We strive to witness to mercy when we reverence the dignity of each person."
Sisters of Mercy have tended the bodies and spirits of the elderly since 1872. Mercy Retirement and Care Center continues that tradition as part of Elder Care Alliance. Their mission-centered programs guide and care for older adults with an emphasis on community and spiritual care.
Full of energy and innovative ideas, chaplain Sister Joan Marie O'Donnell has created activities at Alma Via San Francisco that promote spiritual care for all. She conducts prayer services and Bible study groups. "We honor and celebrate major feasts of various faith traditions," she said. She brought the Mercy Center Home Retreat to the assisted living facility for the third summer this year. She arranged for Mercy High School students to come to sing and interact. As chaplain she counsels and provides end-of-life care for residents and families, but she also stimulates them to see that "it is never too late to learn new things, to reach out and embrace the larger world." The peace and justice group of 15 elders has reached out to young people at Mercy Housing's Carter Terrace and written letters to Congress on immigration.
What has she learned from the residents? "I've seen that the grounding in spirituality that they have developed over the years carries them through, especially when they are losing physical abilities," she said. "I have seen vivid examples of deep faith, of companioning each other to the end. They care about one another. It is a real community."
"Silence is the faithful guardian of interior recollection."