We Humbly Pray
What a big difference from our last blog, with all the joyous events – 150th anniversary celebration; St. Jeanne Jugan – Pot of Gold Raffle; Christmas and New Year celebrations – and bright, smiling faces, to this blog on our COVID-19 journey.
Our last big event was on February 7, when the AJJ (Association Jeanne Jugan) members hosted its annual Resident Event. This year they had a circus theme, with side tables of games and prizes, face painting, magic tricks, balloon bracelets, and of course refreshments, including cotton candy and funnel cake. It was a fun time for all, sitting close, all crowded together in the Social Hall. Who knew that it would have to hold us over for more than three months?
Then in early March, the first signs of the coronavirus hit our area and our lives began to change. First, upon the recommendations of the CDC and departments of health, we implemented a “no visitors” policy, to minimize the risk to our Residents. This was probably the most difficult change for all of us – for the Residents and their families who could no longer visit with each other during this period, and for us, who enjoy seeing the families, volunteers, and supporters of the Home.
We tried to keep the Residents and their loved ones connected in various ways. We would send them updates so they knew the status of cases in the Home. We e-mailed the families messages from the Residents. We were able to set up FaceTime and zoom on a couple of tablets that we had and that were donated. The Residents were amazed at the technology that allowed them to see their family members.
Saturday, March 28, would have been our Spring Concert, which had to be cancelled. Most of those who had bought tickets in advance very generously declined refunds. In addition, Scythian, our featured group, decided to go ahead and livestream a concert for the benefit of Holy Family Home. We are grateful to Scythian for the additional donations we received from this venue. Please see the list of our sponsors and Lucky Irish Draw winners here.
Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter liturgies were very quiet events, as they were throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia because of the suspension of people being able to attend Mass. Our Residents “attend” Mass and devotions that are livestreamed from our Chapel through the television.
On April 24 we had a very special visit – Father Matthew Guckin from St. Francis de Sales parish walked through the neighborhood all the way to Holy Family Home with our Eucharistic Lord in the monstrance. He blessed people in the neighborhood and then walked around our building, blessing the Sisters, Residents and staff, many who were gathered at the windows. It was a very touching experience for all. Please be sure to watch a short clip of Father Guckin’s “Neighborhood Blessing.” Click here to view the video.
Although we could not have groups of Residents together, Katiana in Activities kept the Residents busy with puzzles, artwork, and individual visits. She also had “doorway” activities so Residents were still able to play their beloved bingo from the safe distance of their bedroom doors. On Cinco de Mayo they joyfully swung at pinatas. To keep fit they follow exercise videos.
Every day the staff and Residents have their temperatures taken, go through a health screening, and are monitored for symptoms. Staff is wearing face masks, and when necessary they also don gowns, face shields, and gloves.
The dining rooms are temporarily closed and meals are delivered to the Residents in the bedrooms and apartments. Although they miss the companionship of eating together, they are enjoying the door-to-door room service.
We are most grateful to all our benefactors who have helped us financially, especially through our annual appeal mailing. Many have also sent us much-needed supplies – homemade cloth masks, surgical masks, N-95 masks, sanitizing gel, etc. Others have helped as shoppers, buying groceries and supplies for our apartment Residents, whom we are asking not to go out except for essential purposes. Students from SS. Colman-John Neumann School have been sending artistic, homemade cards with cheery messages. The Board of St. Francis Auxiliary sent individual bouquets of flowers on Mother’s Day. Some of them have also been writing encouraging letters to our Residents, who appreciate the extra contact from the community.
Most importantly, you are helping us with your prayers.
We hope that things will soon settle down, the restrictions will be lifted, and we will be able to see each other again. What a joyful time that will be! In the meantime, we continue to work hard to keep our Residents and staff safe and healthy. May God bless us all.