MUMBAI, India – A Catholic home for elderly women in Mumbai marked its 50th year this week with a Thanksgiving Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop John Rodrigues of the Archdiocese of Bombay.
St. Antony’s Home in Mumbai’s Bandra neighborhood, run by the Clarist Franciscan Missionaries of the Most Blessed Sacrament (CFMSS), celebrated its golden jubilee on Oct. 4.
The mission of the residence is to provide for the physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of unwanted and abandoned elderly women in a loving, caring, dignified and Christian environment.
“The sisters of the congregation had this vision, to start a home to care for the aged,” Rodrigues noted in his homily.
“The elderly were in need of solace and comfort. Here in this home, they would experience love, support and care. The sister’s dream took shape, the people in need were looked after and God was being glorified. God’s plan continues to unfold, his love is to be shared and experienced by all,” the bishop continued.
Sister Nirmala, the superior of the CFMSS, noted the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their work.
“Before the Pandemic we used to have the full capacity of 60 women above the age of 70 years in our home. However, during the extended period of pandemic of the past three years we could not admit those who approached us, as they were not vaccinated against the coronavirus and few of them were dementia patients,” she said, adding there were not 45 residents at the home.
“At our home, we treat each and every one of our elderly women with tender loving care and accept each one with their limitations and strength. We bring solace and hope to the elderly women and make them feel at home and useful. We provide medical care and diet according to each one’s requirements, and hospitalization whenever required,” she told Crux.
She said one of the jobs of the sisters working at the home is listening to the elderly women, “and helping them to accept their age, sickness, loneliness and frustration.”
“There are moments of festivities and celebrations too: We celebrate their birthdays and festival days with them, and various kinds of age-appropriate recreation, physical exercises, entertainment programs, games and picnics. During recreation, our elderly women watch news on televisions and entertainment programs on YouTube,” Sister Nirmala said.
She also said the women residents are active in keeping the home in proper working order, assisting in the housework and cooking.
“The entire atmosphere is peaceful and serene and is created in the home for their wellbeing. The weak and disabled elderly women are provided with special helpers,” she said.
Sister Nirmala said the home also looks after the spiritual needs of the residents with Mass, the rosary, and the Divine Mercy chaplet celebrated daily.
“Our non-Catholic elderly residents follow all that is taking place in the home. They are free to join in all the spiritual exercises, but there is no force. But they do join in everything,” she said.
“There is a sister who takes care of the medical palliative care,” she added, and said that the sisters stay with anyone who is dying “till the last breath.”