Senior Living & Resources
Preaching from the altar so that all present would have a better chance to see and hear him, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, told residents of Mercy Retirement and Care Center, "I know for many of you it was not the easiest day of your life when you had to leave your home, or your religious community residence or convent."
ALL: MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
'The whole Body of Christ cares about you'
After Mass, Bishop Barber visited with residents and their families. With the bishop, left, are Donna Keala Landeza; Frances Landeza, seated; and Rev. Jayson Landeza.
Bishop Barber washed the feet of five people during the Liturgy of the Lord's Supper on March 24.
On Holy Thursday, in the Holy Year of Mercy, "I want to be in a place that's been overflowing with mercy for decades and decades," Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, said as he began Mass March 24 at Mercy Retirement and Care Center in Oakland.
Aided by wheelchairs, walkers and staff members who walked beside them, about 100 residents made their way to the senior center for the 3 p.m. Mass. The bishop noted that most churches have one evening Mass on the day that commemorates the Last Supper, the first Mass, the institution of the Eucharist, and the day "we priests trace the beginning of the priesthood."
He had come to Mercy Center, he said, because "I know it's not so easy to get out and go to church."
In his homily, the bishop told the gathering, "I came here to say that the Church cares about you. The Church is the whole Body of Christ. The whole Body of Christ cares about you in this period of your life."
"I had to come," he said, because the Legislature had passed, and Gov. Brown signed, a bill legalizing assisted suicide in California. "As you see with many things, what begins as a right often becomes an obligation," he warned. "More and more pressure will be put on elderly people by insurance companies, by even family members, by society, to take their own life, to make like you feel you are a burden.
"But you are not a burden. You are our mothers and fathers, our grandmothers and grandfathers, our aunts, our uncles, vowed sisters, priests and brothers. You are as valuable in the eyes of God today as on the day you were born."
"I know it is not easy getting old," the bishop said. His next line – "Tell me about it, bishop – drew knowingly laughter from the gathering.
"I know for many of you it was not the easiest day of your life when you had to leave your home, or your religious community residence or convent," he said.
The bishop spoke about his grandmother, who in 1990 became a resident of Mercy Center. "She had valued her independence" he said. "I think it was the hardest day of her life," he said of the day she moved from San Francisco to assisted living. "She was a brave woman," he said. "She didn't look back."
That letting go takes courage, he said. "It's very hard to step back and be ministered to," he said. "The hardest thing is not getting old, but giving up our will for God's will."
He tenderly washed the feet of five people, including a retired priest, thanking each by name. Afterward, he said he had symbolically washed the feet of all present.
At the end of Mass, the bishop greeted each resident as he or she made their way from the senior center.
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