Senior citizens in the Finger Lakes area now have another opportunity for monthly food, fellowship and fun.
Members of St. Mary Parish in Waterloo and St. Patrick Parish in Seneca Falls recently formed the new St. Mary’s/St. Patrick’s 50+ Senior Group. Membership in the group, however, is not limited to parishioners from the two parishes, which clustered in 2007, according to Janette Seamans, vice president of the group.
"In our bulletin (announcements) we say all are welcome, and we do welcome people to come and get together. The more the merrier, I always feel," Seamans recently told the Catholic Courier.
The senior group only has met a handful of times so far, including a Dec. 9 Christmas party, but already it has attracted nearly 30 seniors, some of who travel to the meetings from Ovid and other areas outside of Waterloo and Seneca Falls, noted Seamans, who belongs to St. Mary Parish.
"I just started going because I’m fully retired now and I thought it would be good to get together with other people my age. I think that’s why other people come, too," Seamans explained.
"I think there’s a lot of people that get older, their husbands die, their wives die, and they don’t have a lot of social activities to go to," added Fran Kuplinski, a member of St. Patrick Parish.
St. Patrick parishioners formed a similar group in the mid-1990s, Kuplinski said, noting that both she and her husband, Chet, are St. Patrick parishioners and belonged to that original senior group.
Joyce Zmuda, another member of St. Patrick’s original senior group, said the group had been very active and frequently held fundraisers, such as chicken barbecues, and donated the proceeds to the youth group and local charities. After about 10 years, however, the group began to peter out.
"It was a good group when we were going. My personal opinion is when they got into all the fundraising, it kind of scared a few people away," Kuplinski said.
"It dwindled and dwindled and eventually we just kind of quit," Zmuda added.
After becoming pastor of the Waterloo and Seneca Falls parishes in 2007, Father James Fennessy expressed an interest in starting another senior group, Zmuda said.
"He contacted a few people, including me. We got together, and we’re trying to make a go of it," she added.
Zmuda, Kuplinski, Seamans and the other members of the senior group have spent the last few months hammering out the details. They elected officers and decided members should pay $5 in annual dues, Seamans said. This money, together with the proceeds from monthly 50-50 raffles, hopefully will be enough to fund the group’s activities, she said. The group’s founding members also talked about what they wanted from the group, Zmuda noted.
"This group wants to be social. It’s an older group. They don’t want to do fundraising," she said.
Many of the senior citizens simply want to get together once a month to eat lunch and socialize, and perhaps to play a few card games, Seamans agreed.
"Everyone seems to like to do that. We’re all retired, so we all have more time than when we were working. It’s good to get together," she said.
Several seniors said they would like speakers, such as DeSales High School Principal Gerald Macaluso, to occasionally visit and address the group, Kuplinski said. Others have expressed an interest in taking trips together.
"We’re still just kind of forming and not really knowing what we want to do, but we’re still getting together," Seamans said.
The senior group’s monthly meetings already are helping St. Mary and St. Patrick parishioners get to know one another, which was another of the group’s main goals.
"We’re social, but we’re also trying to get the two communities to merge," Zmuda explained. "We’ve always been St. Patrick and they’ve been St. Mary. There’s always been something between Seneca Falls and Waterloo. We’re trying to incorporate both."
Thus far, the group includes more St. Patrick parishioners than St. Mary parishioners, but Zmuda said she expects that to change as more Waterloo parishioners hear about the group. Seamans said the group meetings already have helped her get to know St. Patrick parishioners she’d seen before but never really talked to.
"It was another way for St. Mary and St. Patrick to come together," Kuplinski said.