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Pastoral Care with the Elderly in Germany

Caring for older persons in Essen, Germany, is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

Sister Mechthild Driesch has spent many years in pastoral care ministry. She served as a hospital pastoral care worker for 15 years, and then was employed by the Diocese of Essen, Germany, in 1998 as the person in charge of pastoral care in nursing homes for the elderly. In this position she trained and accompanied pastoral workers, geriatric nurses, volunteers, and pastoral teams in parishes. Her work included visits, consultations, seminars, and facilitating reflection on such topics as communication and conflict management.

“After retiring from my responsibilities in the diocesan department for senior citizens at the end of 2009 I was invited by our Bishop to take up pastoral care of senior members in our parish,” Sister Mechthild explains.

The focus of Sister’s work now is pastoral care for the elderly living in the St. Martin residential care home. She explains, “There I prepare liturgies for special occasions, accompany relatives in crisis situations, and give workshops/reflections on relevant topics for the staff. I am also a member of the advisory board and can influence the happenings in the home.”

Sister Mechthild adds, “In the meantime, I have started a reflection group in our parish…I am also organizing a course for professional care givers and social workers, training them for pastoral activities for the elderly in their institutions. The Church does not have enough workers in this field. This will help the people get the needed assistance.”

People of different ages and life experiences take the course. When they successfully complete it, they get a certificate and a commission from the Bishop for their work.

September 15, 2011