Workshop encourages parishes to reach out to caregivers
By Lois Rogers|Correspondent
For the two dozen pastoral team leaders who gathered in St. Anselm Parish, Wayside, Oct. 15, the workshop on caregiving couldn’t have been more personal.
Almost everyone in the large activity room had been, at one time or another, a caregiver or was supportive of someone who was.
And what they found at the workshop – “Essentials of Caregiving” – sponsored by the diocesan Department of Pastoral Care, was an affirmation that they had, by virtue of their own faith, devotion and dedication, done their best for their husbands, wives and friends.
What they also found was the inspiration to bring the insights and resources they had gleaned in the three-hour program back to share with the volunteers who serve in their parishes.
Ann Rankl, a parish nurse in St. Catharine Parish, Holmdel, had been the caregiver for her husband, Dr. Carl Rankl, during his final illness. She found the program uplifting. “It didn’t sadden me,” said Rankl afterward. “It confirmed in me that I had done the right thing while (we) were on this journey. I felt rewarded by the experience.”
The workshop “offered ways to understand the challenges and the blessings,” of caregiving, said Jane Strada, who along with Rosemary Paduano, leads the pastoral team of about 15 volunteers from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Asbury Park.
Strada and Paduano, who attended the session along with six of those volunteers, found the overview approach of the workshop extremely informative. “It offered a lot of insight on the challenges and blessings of caregiving,” said Strada. “We’ll be bringing the information back to the parish and sharing it with our volunteers.”
The information offered included a book entitled “How to Honor Your Aging Parents,” by internationally known gerontologist Richard P. Johnson which identifies 10 essential principles of caregiving; handouts on self-care for caregivers and fact sheets on hiring in-home help, among others.
Bringing the resources presented at the workshop back to the 20 parishes represented was the goal of facilitators John M. Kalinowski, director of the diocesan Department of Pastoral Care and Janis W. Bell, coordinator of the Ministry of Maturing Adults – the department’s seven programs.
Kalinowski talked about his program as a “first time out event,” that he and Bell hope to recreate in the near future. They both urged those attending to spread the word that the Pastoral Care department is offering “a lot of information and support” for caregivers on its pages on the diocesan website at www.dioceseoftrenton.org. Kalinowski and Bell brought their own insights to the program as they briefly shared caregiving experiences of their own.
Both he and Bell focused on the importance of building a support network from among family, friends and social service agencies and encouraged their listeners to set realistic goals for themselves as they strive to insure the comfort of their “care partner.”
The pair impressed on their listeners the blessings of embracing a strong focus on God as key to the support network.
Other presentations, by Sandra Mularkey, a pastoral associate and parish nurse in St. Anselm Parish, retired therapist Kevin Dohrenwend and Maryanne Wollins-Collins, a member of St. Paul Parish, Princeton, who all brought years of caregiving experience to the table, rounded out the program.
For more information, contact Kalinowski at 609-403-7157 or email [email protected]. Bell can be reached at 609-403-7194 or emailed at [email protected]