10/06/2022, 10.55
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St. Anthony's Home, 50 years alongside the lonely elderly women of Mumbai

by Nirmala Carvalho

In Bandra district, the Franciscan Missionary Poor Clares of the Blessed Sacrament celebrated half a century of their facility that takes in widows and single destitute women. "We treat every single elderly woman with tenderness and love and accept each one with her limitations and strength".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - On the feast of St Francis of Assisi, the St Anthony Home for the Elderly in Mumbai, where the Franciscan Missionary Poor Clares of the Blessed Sacrament take care of abandoned elderly women, celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Auxiliary Bishop Msgr John Rodrigues presided over a Mass of thanksgiving on the occasion of the golden jubilee in this facility that has welcomed thousands of people over decades. The sisters are committed to providing for the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of these elderly people in need of care, in a loving, caring, dignified and Christian environment.

Sr. Nirmala, superior of the Franciscan Missionary Poor Clares of the Blessed Sacrament, tells AsiaNews: "Before the pandemic we used to welcome 60 women over 70 in our home, but during the last three years we could not admit the people who came to us because they were not vaccinated against the Coronavirus or had other problems. This is why the number of guests has been reduced to 45. Our home takes in economically poor, widowed or single people over the age of 70. It is a work that is based on the generosity of benefactors".

"We treat each and every elderly woman with tenderness and love and accept each one with her limitations and strength," Sr. Nirmala continues. "We bring comfort and hope to elderly women and make them feel at home and useful to others.  We listen to them and try to help them accept their age, illness, loneliness and frustration. There is a sister who specifically deals with palliative medical care. When the hour of death comes, we stay with the person in prayer until the last breath".

At St. Anthony House, all birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated, and various types of age-appropriate recreational activities, exercises, entertainment programmes, games and picnics are offered. The guests follow the news on television and entertainment programmes on YouTube, but are also involved in small household chores, such as cutting vegetables or keeping their rooms clean and tidy

"In addition to physical and mental well-being," adds Sr. Nirmala, "we also focus on spiritual well-being with the daily celebration of Mass, the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The non-Catholic residents also follow everything that happens in the home: they are not obliged, but they often participate in the prayer times too".

"We thank God for what He has done in these 50 years through this institution," said Mgr John Rodrigues in his homily at the Mass of Thanksgiving. "We are grateful to the pioneers who wanted this House, to the sisters who have served in these 50 years, to the benefactors also from other religions, to the collaborators, volunteers and staff. May St Francis of Assisi continue to inspire us to radically follow the Gospel and may we experience the presence of Christ in love and service'.

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