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Carmelite sister finds joy in ministering to the elderly

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It was as a child that Sister M. Teresa Kathleen Dominick first became acquainted with the compassionate and skilled ministry of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. The community, founded by Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa, ministers to the elderly in the person of Christ, while always returning to the spiritual mount of prayer and contemplation.

“I met our sisters at our home in Chicago when I was in the sixth grade,” Sister Kathleen recalled. “They were very down to earth, happy in what they were doing, and clearly loved caring for the residents.”

Sister Kathleen said she “fell in love with caring for the elderly,” too, and has been a Carmelite for 57 years.

The sisters minister in long-term healthcare, assisted living and independent living facilities located primarily in the United States, with one home in Ireland. In the archdiocese, they operate St. Margaret Hall, where Sister Kathleen serves as a resident representative and family advocate, along with being involved in pastoral ministry. Her role, she explained, is to welcome new residents, visiting daily for the first two weeks to ensure they feel comfortable and are adjusting to the change in environment. Sister Kathleen also spends time with residents’ relatives, answering questions and offering reassurance.

“They are turning the care of their family members over to us, many after caring for them for a long time,” she said. “Once they learn we can do the same thing they did at home, they can relax, spend time with their family members, and love them. We provide the physical care, and they can be the emotional support.”

“I tell people that the elderly give so much more to us than we give to them,” Sister Kathleen said. “They share their love, their wisdom, their appreciation for our care. They don’t ask a lot, just to be recognized as a person and to know that someone cares about them. That’s the best gift we can give to any of our residents.”

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