by Charles Clifford
About 14 or 15 years ago a small group of St. George’s parishioners under the direction of the Rev. Tom Kingston, began ministering to the residents of the Bennett Center.
Today this ministry is still going on under the direction of the Rev. Rob Park, the Rev. Tim Novis of Hornby, and the Rev. Frank Mason, honorary assistant at St. Alban’s in Glen Williams. These priests alternate duty in order to bring Communion to the residents almost every Friday. Frank Mason takes (on the average) two services because he loves to officiate at this service.
The original persons who began this service, were Edith Barnes and her husband (who used to attend St. George’s and lived in Balinafad), and Betty and Tom Parry. They were later joined by Betty Sandifer, Edna Turnbull, Mary Farrar, Vi King, and Jean Lorriman.
Eight years ago, Elizabeth Clifford took over playing the piano each Friday. Now Gord Hunt also plays at least once a month, but will “play anytime”.
Other members of the group are June Ross from Stewarttown, Charles Clifford, Frieda Keller, and Daphne Rolfe
Usually we arrive at the Bennett Center shortly after 10:00, and start visiting the resident’s rooms to find out if they want to come to church. Most of the residents are in wheelchairs and they are wheeled into the Lounge preparatory to the service beginning about 10:45.
The service is the Holy Eucharist found on page 230 in the green book. We start off with a hymn, and proceed from there through the service as we would when we attend any church service.
We generally have around 20- 30 residents attending. Although some may appear to be asleep or not paying attention, when they get to some particular remembered area, such as the Lord’s Prayer or some hymn they remember, you can see their lips moving, and you know they are paying attention in their own way. Others follow the service intensely , and the majority take communion.
Once the Eucharist is finished, and the final hymn is sung, we then have to perform two favorites, with actions. All of the volunteers, and a lot of the residents participate. We finish with: “He’s got the Whole World in His Hands”, followed by “I’m a little Teapot”.
We all get to know the residents on a very intimate basis, and see how they look forward to us coming every week. We know they appreciate it, and we enjoy it, too. It’s sad to see people you have grown to love deteriorating, and dying, however, we have the satisfaction of bringing them closer to God in their final days.