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Shining a Spotlight on the Ministry with Maturing Adults

Posted : May-25-2023

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The month of June is dedicated to Adult Faith Formation for the ministries of the Office of Formation for Discipleship. It is also Seniors’ Month in Ontario. This office is committed to help parishes support all adults to grow and mature in their faith. One of our specialized areas of parish ministry is the Ministry with Maturing Adults, for those aged 50+. Below, Sr. Janet Schaeffler, OP, shares her insights on parish maturing adult ministry.

Seniors’ Month (June) and the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly (July)

1. Why is the ministry with maturing adults important today?

So many reasons; two of them:

  • Our society still promotes myths and negativity, viewing aging as inevitable decline, disabilities, illness, and losses. Scripture reminds us: “They shall bear fruit even in old age, they will stay fresh and green” (Psalm 92). Ministry with maturing adults can be a counter-cultural message to what our society says.
  • As we age, our potential for spiritual growth increases. Plato remarked, “The spiritual eyesight improves as the physical eyesight declines.” Dr. Richard Johnson says, “As we mature, our spiritual pace quickens.” What a privilege to walk this journey with maturing adults.

2. What are some benefits of a parish ministry with maturing adults?

This population is the fastest growing in Canada, throughout the world, certainly in our parishes. The benefits of our ministry are many – for maturing adults and for the whole parish:

  • A faith community of supportive care and relationships
  • Intensified respect for the value of each person
  • Emphasis on the fullness of life, leading to connection and discipleship
  • Increased participation in parish ministries and outreach
  • Recognizing and tapping into incredible wisdom
  • Connecting generations

3. What advice do you have for parishes starting a Ministry with Maturing Adults?

  • Listen. Make phone calls, home visits, parish gatherings to listen to the experiences and needs of your parish’s maturing adults.
  • This ministry includes those 55-100+, each with various life circumstances and differing needs. Hence, the necessity to provide many things (yet, do one thing at a time).
  • Never minister alone but with a group of parishioners that are representative of the various life stages of your maturing adults.

4. Why is it important to celebrate Seniors’ Month (June) and the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly (July)? 

Parishes often focus on children, youth and parents. We should; as well as recognizing all in our parish. These celebrations provide one opportunity to affirm the importance and giftedness of maturing adults.

Often expectations are that this ministry will promote spiritual growth, such as prayers, devotions, etc.  There is little recognition that spirituality is intertwined with all life. These celebrations provide an opportunity to see all moments of life as holy.

Pope Francis speaks often of the vocation of maturing adults, recognizing "our societies are not ready, spiritually and morally, to give this period of life its full worth." We need to take every opportunity to change that!