Norwood parish honors caregivers on World Day of the Sick

On Sunday Feb. 11, World Day of the Sick, parishioners at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Norwood gathered to honor those who make daily -- and often unnoticed -- sacrifices to care for the ones they love. “A Celebration of Caregiving” was the first event of its kind at St. Catherine’s, one its chief organizer, Pat Gavin, hopes will grow into a tradition.

Father John Currie celebrated the 2 p.m. Mass at the convent chapel on the St. Catherine of Siena School Campus. In his homily, he thanked the caregivers of the parish and called them “an inspiration.” About 40 people attended. After Mass, everyone gathered for a reception. Guests drank apple, peppermint, or lemon tea served in china cups and saucers and indulged in cakes and cookies. It was a welcome respite for those whose daily service extends from day into night, as they mind those who are unable to care for themselves.

One attendee shared her story, but asked that her name not be used. She manages the physical challenges of caring for her ailing husband while wrestling with the emotional anguish of watching his memory vanish before her.

“This is new for me,” she said. “I take care of everything.” She admits that it is hard not to lose patience after explaining something several times or reminding her husband to finish a task he has abandoned before finishing. It is a fight to keep the blues at bay. However, she is steadfast in her determination to provide the best life possible, taking him to Mass as often as she can. She, too, finds solace in prayer.

“Sometimes, I go to my room and have a good cry,” she confided. “Then I pray for him and that I will have the strength I need to take care of him.”

After the tea, parishioner Eileen Smith led the group through meditation exercises, called ‘‘A Celebration of Caregiving Body and Spirit.’’

“You give of yourself to others all day long,” she began her program. “Now it’s time for you.” Smith, a mother of two who has worked with caregivers since she was a teenager, highlighted the critical need for rejuvenation ecially when one’s work demands so much energy. According to Smith, deep relaxation is something everyone is capable of achieving.

“We all have the power,” she said. “It’s God’s given resource.” This assurance is a comfort for those who give of themselves daily. For one afternoon, those who spend their days steeped in the needs of others enjoyed the gift comfort and peace in the reminder that their work is recognized by the community.

“Thank you for all that you do,” Pat Gavin praised her guests. “You are here to be served.”