By MARINELLA LENTIS
For The Catholic Week
MONTGOMERY — In 1996, Holy Spirit Catholic Church parishioners Lois Miller and her husband Arthur started an organization for senior adults to provide spiritual support and fellowship to parishioners 50 years old and older.
Today, 23 years later, Senior Spirits comprises of more than 100 people and has reached out to Catholic seniors in the entire River Region, including people from all Montgomery parishes as well as parishes in Wetumpka, Prattville, Tallassee and Selma. They meet for activities and joint luncheons three times a year.
“Senior Spirits are thankful for the many blessings we receive, especially for the opportunity for all of the Catholic seniors to get to gather for faith, fun and fellowship,” said Barb Brienza, the group’s organizer.
When the original senior group started dwindling about 10 years ago, Brienza agreed to pick up the reins. She was glad when Royce Cook offered to help as she did not think she could do this alone. A few years ago, Cindy Russell also came on board the organizational team.
Brienza explained that the group offers a variety of recreational senior adult-oriented programs with spiritual guidance and wellness suitable for those advancing in age. Monthly gatherings run from September through May and alternate between luncheon events and dinner gatherings, all of which are normally catered. The evening meetings, about three per year, are so planned to allow working men to attend as well.
Some past events included a Hispanic dinner, a 1950s karaoke party, a spring luncheon with entertainment provided by the Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School Jazz Band, a football tailgating party and a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. A few day trips are scheduled each year.
In addition, for the past several years, River Region Catholic Seniors have organized Lenten pilgrimages to well-known Catholic sites accompanied by a local priest. They have visited the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, the city of Mobile, Cullman, Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat Center, and more recently, they’ve been on a two-day trip to New Orleans. These activities foster relationships and allow fellowship, camaraderie and the opportunity to get to know people from different parishes.
While socialization is an important aspect of the Senior Spirits’ mission, service to the parish and to those in need in the community are also priorities. Recently, after a tour of the City of St. Jude and a visit to the Dominican Monastery of St. Jude in Marbury, members agreed to designate their charitable efforts to these institutions.
When asked what the most rewarding thing about this group is, Cook said going to the different churches and seeing more people from different parishes getting involved.
“It’s becoming a form of outreach and I think this teaches us to go outside our parish,” added Russell. “I met so many wonderful women from other churches, that’s rewarding.”
All senior members 50 and over are encouraged to join to support one another and their parishes as they journey through their golden years.
By MARINELLA LENTIS