“There is nothing ordinary about Ordinary Time!”

As we send out our latest GOG news to you we are in the 10th week of Ordinary Time. (The definition of the word Ordinary in this context comes from the Latin word Ordo which means order, and the weeks of Ordinary Time are numbered rather than given specific names.) The Roman Catholic Church and many others define Ordinary Time as all the time outside Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. It comprises 33-34 weeks of the 52 week year, so is actually most of our lives!

We are perhaps back into our routine, after the lows of Lent and the highs of Easter and Pentecost. Most of us spend our daily lives in more middling rhythms and ordinary routines. Writers like Joan Chittister and Margaret Silf write about  Ordinary Time emphasising that we can find God in all things and in everyone. This may be difficult if we feel isolated, are currently anxious about our lives, if we or others are ill, or are grieving someone close to us. As we grow older bereavement and illness may be more evident in our daily lives.

However: so is our experience evident, (if not to ourselves, to others), and the wisdom gained from it. Perhaps we have time to notice the small as well as the big things. In no particular order: we may appreciate more the abundant nature around us as it transforms from spring to summer colours, a sunset, a lovely building, the families and children around us (whether we have our own children or not) who are becoming older. We may remember them as babies and now see what they are doing! We may have time to stop and chat, to “sit and stare”, to encourage others, to watch our favourite TV programme, to give and receive everyday support and kindnesses and to appreciate quietly the work of those around us. We are all still working (even if it is not paid work) in our homes, parishes, volunteering in our communities, thinking about the wider world, donating time and money, signing petitions, voting, smiling and talking to others we see every day. If we cannot get out much we can approach the challenges of daily life of getting through the living of the day as work. We can all think and pray about those around us. St Therese of Lisieux wrote about doing small things well, with great love for God and others. In many ways older people can be the binding glue in their community’s daily lives, just as Ordinary Time is the important binding glue in the daily life of the Church’s liturgical year.

So, in our ordinary everyday lives, we never know how significant are our daily tasks and prayers for others. Recently I noticed a person who seemingly cannot hear, move or remember very much these days. She sits and prays most of the time and has the most wonderful smile.  Everyone notices her and feels her warmth and encouragement. Daniel O’Leary says “When we see the presence of God in our most ordinary, daily routines, and in the darkness we often experience, then our lives are transformed.” God is in that smile!

 Best wishes in Ordinary Time!
Pippa Bonner

Dementia Awareness Week

This week is The Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Awareness Week (15th – 20th May), and this year’s focus is to encourage anyone who is worried about dementia to confront their concerns and get in touch.

If you’re worried that you, or someone close to you, might have dementia, the National Dementia Helpline is there to offer advice and support on 0300 222 1122 or email helpline@alzheimers.org.uk .

 

Here at Growing Old Grace-fully we wanted to write our own messages to Dementia, and help us show people who are worried that they’re not alone.

Dear Dementia

There are lots of events happening this week so here’s a link to the Yorkshire events: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/events.php?categoryID=200223 and we are running a short one hour session on ‘Becoming a Dementia-Friendly Parish’  this week on Wednesday 18th May at Corpus Christi, Neville Road, Leeds LS9 0HD at 7.00pm – 8.00pm. 

 

It is easy to assume our parishes are automatically dementia-friendly.  How could we who aspire to follow Jesus think it is acceptable to exclude anyone?  Yet often people with dementia, and their families, do have that experience of feeling marginalised.  To be a dementia-friendly parish is to find ways to include people with dementia, so that they are helped to experience life in all its fullness and they know they are not alone.

Dying Matters Awareness Week (9th-15th May).

Talking about dying can be awkward and painful, but according to recent research 71% of the public agree that if people in Britain felt more comfortable discussing dying, death and bereavement it would be easier to have our end of life wishes met (ComRes 2015).

The Dying Matters coalition was founded in 2009, and was set up to encourage people to talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, as well as thinking ahead for when their time inevitably comes.

Dying Matters 2016Every year, Dying Matters have a dedicated Awareness Week, which is committed time for people to have these conversations.

To support this hugely significant week, there are a number of events happening around our Diocese:

 

LEEDS

St Gemma’s will be holding a Dying Matters event at Leeds Museum on Tuesday 10th May and are inviting people to come and talk about death, dying, planning, funerals, bereavement… if it’s on your mind, come and talk it through with our experts.  http://static.ow.ly/docs/Dying%20Matters%20advert%202016_4IVU.pdf

 

BRADFORD

Funeral homes in the Bradford area are inviting local people to join them for a coffee, cake and a chat – it’s a simple as that.  Pop into your nearest funeral home and a member of the team will be delighted to speak with you Bradford’s Big Conversation for Dying Matters Awareness Week on Tuesday 10th, Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th May, between 11am and 1pm. http://www.co-operativefuneralcare.co.uk/event/take-part-in-bradfords-big-conversation-for-dying-matters-awareness-week-130-legrams-lane-may/

A group of staff and students at the University of Bradford, along with external partners, are inviting people to a free interactive conference on Monday 16 May, 9-4.30pm, looking at compassionate communities. The group is also hosting a death café in the Atrium on Tuesday 17 May and there will be another held at Marie Curie Hospice Bradford on Thursday 19 May. Both take place 10am – 4pm and provide a natural space for conversations about death and dying. http://www.bradford.ac.uk/health/news-and-events/events/lets-talk-death-compassionate-communities-event.php

 

Growing Old Grace-fully have developed a workshop which provides a safe space for people to explore these sensitive issues, including what our own Catholic perspective offers.  If your Parish are interested in holding a Living Well, Dying Well workshop, or simply want to know more, please call Rachel on 07702 255142 or email growing.old.gracefully@dioceseofleeds.org.uk .

 

Dementia Friends in our Diocese

Some of St Joseph's, Pudsey SVP members

Some of St Joseph’s, Pudsey SVP members

Growing Old Grace-fully led two short sessions recently for people wanting to know more about Growing A Dementia-Friendly Parish at St Joseph’s, Pudsey and St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Shipley.

Dementia Friends from Shipley's St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Dementia Friends from Shipley’s St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

 

Thank you to everyone who supported these hour-long sessions which resulted in 21 new Dementia Friends.  Having Dementia Friends in a Parish is a great way to change the way people think, act and talk about dementia and is a real start to becoming a Dementia-Friendly Parish.

It’s easy to assume our parishes are dementia-friendly… how could we who aspire to follow Jesus think it is acceptable to exclude anyone?  Yet people living with dementia, and their families, do often have that experience of feeling marginalised.  Being dementia-UNfriendly doesn’t happen because people want to exclude someone.  It’s often a lack of understanding about dementia or even misplaced kindness.  To be a Dementia-Friendly Parish is to engage in the process that will find ways to include people with dementia, so that they are helped to experience life in all its fullness.

Growing a Dementia-Friendly Parish is always work in progress.  It will take on a life of its own, develop and grow.  Congratulations to the Parishes of St Joseph’s and St Teresa Benedicta for starting the journey.

If you would like to book a one hour information session on Growing  A Dementia-Friendly Parish , or simply want to know more, please call Rachel on 07702 255142 or email growing.old.gracefully@dioceseofleeds.org.uk .