Fr. Michael Machacek of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Etobicoke, Ont. says he knew it would be important to support the community members through its first-ever Intergenerational Community Week June 20-23. Photo courtesy of Fr. Michael Machacek

Parish supports growing population of seniors in community with seminars

By 
  • June 22, 2017

A parish’s first job is to serve its community, said Fr. Michael Machacek of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Etobicoke, Ont.

And because of the parish’s growing population of seniors, he knew it would be important to support the community members through its first-ever Intergenerational Community Week.

Launching with a Corpus Christi procession on June 17, the parish ran a series of seminars (June 20-23) geared toward “seniors and seniors-to-be.”

Throughout the week, the parish hosted sessions on practical education, such as available home care services, retirement needs, funeral planning and other life realities. But there were also sessions that discussed the Sacrament of Marriage and the importance of feeding mind, body and soul.

“In my particular parish, demographically, this is an older area. We probably have, proportionally, more seniors living in this area than in other places in Toronto,” said Machacek.

“Basically, the whole idea is building community as well as celebrating our faith. ... It’s an opportunity to draw in many of the seniors into the life of the parish community as well.”

Nativity of Our Lord Parish has about 1,200 households registered and about half the parishioners are senior citizens, said Machacek.

With the latest Statistics Canada census revealing that Canadian seniors outnumber young people for the first time since Confederation — 5.9 million over 65 compared to 5.8 million under 15 — Nativity of Our Lord Parish will not be the only parish that will need to think about catering its community life toward its elder members.

“Especially with the younger seniors, they still have much energy, much time and they have lots to offer,” said Machacek. “It’s like, ‘You’ve got a lot more to offer than you sometimes give yourself credit for.’ ”

The parish has one of the largest St. Vincent de Paul Society groups in the Archdiocese of Toronto, as well as a very active caring ministry for shut-ins and a senior social ministry.

At the same time, the pastor says there is a thriving youth and young adult ministry that has drawn in a new generation of community members.

“I was even saying (at Mass), you know, you might be 25 years old but you’re going to be a senior one day or your parents are going to be seniors, so these things are going to be helpful,” said Machacek.

Machacek said that the idea for the community week came from discussions with individual parishioners and even parish groups like the pastoral council. The topics of the week’s seminars are based on concerns that many in the community have been talking about for many years.

“Being a part of a parish community isn’t just something that we do on Sunday,” said Machacek. “How do we participate in all aspects of our lives? But in order to do that, you also have to do things for them and give them opportunities.”

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