Seniors hear a message of hope

SAN ANTONIO – Senior citizens and other adults from San Antonio and beyond, gathered for Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Catholic Seniors’ Conference on May 4, 2019 at St. George Maronite Catholic Church’s Phoenician Ballroom.

Pilgrim Center of Hope offered resources for seniors including Mass celebrated by the ministry’s chaplain, Fr. Patrick Martin, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, ministry and vendor exhibitors with resources for physical, mental, and spiritual health, and much more.

During morning Mass, Fr. Patrick Martin encouraged those present to trust that the all-loving God is present to them in all circumstances, especially times of illness, loneliness, difficulty, and suffering.

Messages of joy and hope were offered in presentations by Jeannette Santos, LPC, Fr. Pat Martin, and Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox.

  • Recordings of the first 2 presentations, as well as photos of the day’s events, are available to view on the CSC website.
  • The Foxes’ presentation also drew adults of various ages, as it was the second in a Saturday morning Meet the Master series being offered by Pilgrim Center of Hope and open to all throughout the rest of 2019.

Seniors walked away encouraged and renewed in spirit, ready to continue their journeys in hope. On evaluation forms, seniors thanked Pilgrim Center of Hope for offering this experience especially for them.

Catholic Seniors’ Conference Success!

The Catholic Seniors’ Conference held on Saturday, February 24 was a great success! The conference was held at St. Matthew Church & McDonald Center. There were 288 attendees, many of whom expressed their gratitude for such an event!

Archbishop Gustavo began the day with Mass. His homily stressed the importance of seniors’ prayers and wisdom. The attendees completed evaluation forms that included positive comments on how the CSC inspired and encouraged them. One participant wrote: “The value of coming to this conference encouraged me to continue to grow in my faith, even at 86!” The opportunity for confession was also offered. One person shared that it had been many years since they had received this Sacrament of Reconciliation!

The speakers’ presentations have been added to our website. Please share this with others.

Toward next year’s conference, we plan to emphasize that all ages are welcome. Many seniors need their children and grandchildren, or neighbors and friends, to provide transportation so that they can benefit from this encouraging event. Stay tuned to our website & email list for updates!

Archbishop gives a homily during the 2017 Catholic Seniors' Conference

Seniors encouraged at 2017 Conference

“We need you!” Archbishop Gustavo assured 300 senior citizens during our Catholic Seniors’ Conference, at St. Matthew Church on February 4. After a fantastic homily and Mass celebrated by our dear Shepherd, we were also inspired by the following talks – watch them on our website and share with seniors in your life!

Lisa Mladinich – “Finding Grace In the Second Half of Life”
Fr. Clay Hunt – “The Joy of Being Known by God and His Gift to Us”
Deacon Tom Fox – “Spreading the Message of Hope!”

One of the most important fruits of this unique event is the message of dignity that seniors receive. The Mass and speakers reminded seniors of their important role in the Church and society, encouraging them to embrace these golden years, and challenging them to share their wisdom.

This year’s conference would not have been possible without the generous sponsors and hard-working team of volunteers, including our CSC Steering Committee. Isn’t it amazing what willing and faithful people can do together? We marvel at how the Lord connects us with gifted volunteers! Thanks be to God for each one of you.

Please mark your calendars for Saturday, February 24, 2018 as the 5th Catholic Seniors’ Conference!

Three beaming seniors with our logo at the bustling conference

APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION OF POPE FRANCIS – AMORIS LAETITIA

Excerpt from sections 191-193, “The elderly”

The elderly help us to appreciate “the continuity of the generations”, by their “charism of bridging the gap”. Very often it is grandparents who ensure that the most important values are passed down to their grandchildren, and “many people can testify that they owe their initiation into the Christian life to their grandparents”. Their words, their affection or simply their presence help children to realize that history did not begin with them, that they are now part of an age old pilgrimage and that they need to respect all that came before them.

ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS – ASS’N OF ELDERLY

Pope Paul VI Hall | Saturday, October 15, 2016

Excerpt: The Church looks to the elderly with affection, recognition and great esteem. They are an essential part of the Christian community and of society and, in particular, represent the roots and memory of the people. Yours is an important presence, because your experience is a valuable treasure, indispensable for looking to the future with hope and responsibility. Your maturity and wisdom, accumulated over the years, can help the youngest, supporting them in their journey of growth and openness to the future, in the search for their path. Indeed, the elderly show that, even in the most difficult times, one must never lose faith in God and in a better future. They are like trees that continue to bear fruit even under the weight of the years. […]

In a world such as ours today, in which often the myth of force and appearance prevails, you have the mission of bearing witness to the values that truly count, and which remain for ever, as they are inscribed in the heart of every human being and guaranteed by the word of God. Precisely as people of advanced years, you – or rather we, as I too form part of this group – are called upon to work for the development of a culture of life, showing that every season of existence is a gift from God, and has its beauty and its importance, even if marked by frailty.

ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS – PASTORAL CONGRESS

Basilica of St. John Lateran | Thursday, June 16, 2016

Excerpt: “The old men shall have prophetic dreams” (cf. Joel 2:28). This was a prophecy that Joel made for the time of the Spirit. The old men shall have dreams and the young men shall see visions. With this third image I should like to underscore the importance that the Synod Fathers gave to the value of witness as the place in which one can find the dream of God and the life of men. In this prophecy we contemplate a binding reality: in the dreams of our elders often lies the possibility that our young people may have new visions, may once again have a future. […]

This absence of examples, of witnesses, this lack of grandparents, of fathers able to tell their dreams, does not allow the younger generations to “see visions”. And they are at a standstill. It does not allow them to make plans, since the future creates insecurity, doubt, fear. Only the witness of our parents, seeing that it has been possible to fight for something that was worthwhile, will help them to lift their gaze. How can we expect young people to take up the challenge of family, of marriage as a gift, if they continually hear us say that it is a burden? If we want “visions”, let our grandparents share and tell us their dreams, so that we can have the prophecies for the future.

“Seniors Matter!” 2016 Catholic Seniors’ Conference summary

“Seniors, Your Presence, Your Experiences, and Your Prayers do Matter!”

The 3rd annual Catholic Seniors’ Conference, held on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at St. Matthew Catholic Church can best be described as a joy-filled day which yielded tremendous insight, laughter and hope.

Special guest speakers, Fr. Servando Guerrero-Ponce and Susan Tassone, seized the moment to connect with the approximately 400 seniors in attendance. The mood throughout the day was positive and uplifting. The level of intimacy and warmth that each presenter generated was astounding!

The day began with the celebration of the Eucharist, which set the stage for a day filled with God’s grace and blessing. Once everyone got situated in the McDonald Center, the room full of elders was treated to a videotaped welcome message from Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, whose vision it was to create the Catholic Seniors’ Conference. Inspired by the retirement of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2013, Archbishop approached the Pilgrim Center of Hope, organizers of the Catholic Women’s Conference and Catholic Men’s Conference, asking them to create a conference especially for seniors.

Fr. Servando Guerrero Ponce, a young, vibrant priest of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, had several powerful messages during his presentation, “Life’s Journey to Our Heavenly Father.” Seniors ‘young and old’ were reminded that their presence and their stories are important.

Fr. Servando told all present that, regardless of their age or infirmity, they are loved for who they are, going back all the way to their time in the womb. He said, “Your journey began in eternity and you are headed to eternity.” About the challenges of growing old and overcoming difficulty, Father said that as we all get older we realize, “Life is about waiting for the storm to pass and learning how to dance in the rain.”  Fr. Servando urged all in attendance to enjoy the here and now, to experience God right now. And wherever we are, we need to be fully present.

The momentum and energy of the day only increased for author Susan Tassone’s presentation called, “God’s Mercy in the Mystery of Suffering.” Susan, who is known as the champion of the Holy Souls (in Purgatory), came striding onto the stage in a brand new pair of red cowboy boots, purchased right here in San Antonio, especially for the occasion.

Several inspiring messages were shared by the author of the new St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, chief of which was the revelation that the suffering of the elderly, when offered up and united with prayer, can help the Holy Souls reach heaven. Susan also reminded everyone that the two chief sources to help the souls in purgatory are the holy sacrifice of the Mass and praying the Rosary.

Following an in depth question and answer period with the audience, Miss Tassone led the group of attendees in a faith-filled and reflective scriptural Rosary. Making the moment even more special was the presence of a painted portrait of Our Lady of the Rosary on the main stage, created by artist Ken Fox, brother of Pilgrim Center of Hope co-founder Deacon Tom Fox.

This event marks the third year that the Pilgrim Center of Hope has organized and presented the Catholic Seniors’ Conference – Hallmarks of Aging and Wisdom.

Proverbs 13:14 tells us, “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life.” To ensure that this message is continually carried out, plans are already underway for the 2017 Catholic Senior’s Conference.  If you would like more information about participating in next year’s event, please contact the Pilgrim Center of Hope at 210.521.3377 or directly email Nan Balfour, Events Coordinator: events@pilgrimcenterofhope.org.

ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS – MEETING WITH THE ELDERLY

Saint Peter’s Square | Sunday, 28 September 2014

Excerpt:  …Old age is a time of grace, in which the Lord renews his call to us: he calls us to safeguard and transmit the faith, he calls us to pray, especially to intercede; he calls us to be close to those in need…. The elderly, grandparents have the ability to understand the most difficult of situations: a great ability! And when they pray for these situations, their prayer is strong; it is powerful!

ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS – GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter’s Square | Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Excerpt: We are able to thank the Lord for the benefits received, and fill the emptiness of ingratitude that surrounds us. We are able to intercede for the expectations of younger generations and give dignity to the memory and sacrifices of past generations. We are able to remind ambitious young people that a life without love is a barren life. We are able say to young people who are afraid that anxiety about the future can be overcome. We are able to teach the young who are overly self-absorbed that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. Grandfathers and grandmothers form the enduring “chorus” of a great spiritual sanctuary, where prayers of supplication and songs of praise sustain the community which toils and struggles in the field of life.

ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS – GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter’s Square | Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Excerpt: Our elders are men and women, fathers and mothers, who came before us on our own road, in our own house, in our daily battle for a worthy life. They are men and women from whom we have received so much. The elder is not an alien. We are that elder: in the near or far future, but inevitably, even if we don’t think it. And if we don’t learn how to treat the elder better, that is how we will be treated.