Parishes strive to help people stay healthy - Catholic Courier

Parishes strive to help people stay healthy

Years ago, Madeline Roeding, who attends Holy Spirit Church in Penfield, began to experience arthritic pain. As part of her ongoing effort to deal with the disease, in June Roeding attended a three-session course, “Taking Control of Arthritis,” at St. Paul’s Church in Webster.

“I thought it gave all of us insights into starting an exercise program,” Roeding said of the course, noting that exercise fends off stiffness.

The course was cosponsored by the Arthritis Foundation and the Webster-Penfield Health Ministry, a cooperative effort of St. Paul and Holy Spirit as well as the Webster parishes of Holy Trinity and St. Rita.

“Our major goal is to connect people with specific needs to resources in the community,” said Felice Armignacco, chairwoman of the health ministry’s steering committee. She and the other committee members — drawn from all four parishes — emphasized that they don’t provide actual hands-on care. Instead, they said, they help people by offering health education, counseling and referrals.

The Webster-Penfield ministry is one of several parish-based efforts in the Diocese of Rochester to aid people in maintaining their health. One of the most popular forms of parish health ministry is the sponsorship of blood drives and/or drives to recruit potential bone-marrow donors. Drives of one sort or another have taken place, or will take place, this year at the parishes of St. Patrick, Victor; St. Jude the Apostle, Gates; St. Dominic, Shortsville; St. Pius Tenth, Chili; St. Charles Borromeo and St. Mark, both in Greece; Assumption and Resurrection, both in Fairport; Sacred Heart, Auburn; and St. Michael and St. Ambrose, both in Rochester.

Meanwhile, such parishes as St. Joseph in Rush have promoted health education through a weekly series of “wellness” programs. St. Pius Tenth, along with the Gates parishes of Holy Ghost, St. Helen, St. Jude and St. Theodore, recently cosponsored the weekly series “Caring for an Aging Loved One,” presented by Mercy Center With The Aging, a ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. In April, St. Ambrose offered vascular and bone-density screenings to detect various diseases. And St. Charles Borromeo Parish is planning a health fair for this September.

St. Anne Parish in Rochester has a health-ministry team, according to Sister of Mercy Roberta Rodenhouse, pastoral associate. Twice a month the team offers free blood-pressure screenings after Masses, and has sponsored programs on such topics as dieting, and exercise, she added.

Pat Klees, parish nurse and health-care minister at St. Thomas More Parish in Brighton, said she promotes health awareness and wellness through monthly articles in the parish bulletin as well as occasional workshops. Klees noted that the parish’s health-care committee has set up several programs, including monthly blood-pressure screenings.

“We are always looking for ways to respond to our baptismal call,” she said.

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