May is “Older Americans Month”

Unleash Power of Age

It’s interesting to watch the reactions of adult parishioners on their birthdays when we sing “God grant you many years.”  Most have joyful smiles, some bashful smiles, some roll their eyes when asked their age, and a few never reveal the carefully guarded month, day and year of their birth. We need to reach out to all of them and celebrate the blessings and spiritual gifts of aging. Every birthday is evidence of God’s grace and continuing plan for our lives.

Every year since 1963, the US sponsors “Older Americans Month” in May. The US Agency on Aging declares it to be “a time for recognizing the contributions of older Americans. This year’s theme — “Unleash the Power of Age!” — honors the important role of older adults and recognizes that the essential talents, wisdom, and life experience of older Americans benefit communities across the country.” This is true for all cultures and ethnicities and very much a positive reality for faith communities.

Since 2011, the trend towards increasing numbers of older Americans was evidenced when the first wave of Baby Boomers turned 65. By 2030, one in every five Americans will be 65 and older. In 1992, Diane Zablotsky, then Chairman of OCA’s Department of Senior Life and Ministry, stated, “It is important that all Orthodox Christians become aware of the [eldercare] issues and the local resources available to them. Additionally, there is a continuous need for our clergy and membership to become invested in older parishioners, aware of their unique concerns and contributions, and advocates for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.”

Throughout Older Americans Month, the OCA Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid [CSHA] will feature select articles from the Senior Life section of the Resource Handbook for Ministries. The first article is “Giving Back to the Community,” written by Popadija Kitty Vitko. In it, she tells us about an active retiree who uses his experience, skills and spiritual gifts to serve others in faithful stewardship.

CSHA welcome comments and personal stories on senior life. Contact the department at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  And visit the Resource Handbook for Ministries for a wide range of information on parish ministry themes.