Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Caring for the terminally ill

The Dominican Sisters of St. Rose of Lima (also known as the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne) in Hawthorne, north of New York City, is a congregation founded around the beginning of the 1900s by a lady named Rose Hawthorne (she was a daughter of the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter).  The main purpose in establishing the congregation was to care for elderly, and not so elderly, people, who are terminally ill.      
The Sisters provide direct care for their patients, they do not charge a fee, and they do not accept government funds or insurance reimbursements.    How do they manage this?  ‘We do the best we can and trust the rest to the Lord’, the Superior General says.   Approximately one hundred people are cared for by the Sisters, in Hawthorne, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and in Kisumu (Kenya, East Africa).   Sister Alma Marie, the vocations director of the Congregation, says: ‘Many come here with the fear of dying, of being alone.  When we care for them, we can see the transformation.   We help them live the life that God has given them to the fullest.  We celebrate life.’ 
One of the residents, who had previously been cared for in a well known New York establishment, summed up the atmosphere that is present at the homes run by the Sisters when she said: ‘I always wanted to go home with my family when they visited.  I don’t feel that way here.  I’m already home and my family is content to see me here, because they know I’m happy.’     Would that all people, young and old, who need to be cared for could enjoy such evidently wonderful care, especially towards the end of their lives.