On Sunday, Sept. 25, the Church of the Holy Family in Sewell helped one of their most senior parishioners, Margaret D’Orio of Sicklerville, to celebrate her 105th birthday. (Her actual special day is Sept. 26.)
The pastor, Father John Picinic, along with the parish clergy, recognized Margaret on her wonderful milestone and offered her a blessing of thanksgiving for her life among us and the whole congregation prayed an “Irish Blessing” for her as well. After the Mass, the parish continued her celebration in the Aquin Center with a birthday cake and a resounding chorus of “Happy Birthday” to this beloved member.
Centenarians are a rapidly growing segment of the population in the United States and around the world. As a church and as a society, we need to hold a special place of love, celebration and honor for those who have reached the century milestone and beyond. Centenarians are a witness to the love of God in our world and serve to remind us all that God is the sole author of life. When the lives of so many of our elderly are often seen as a burden to society and the medical-economics seem to warrant a time limit on their care, we as church see them as precious gifts to be respected, cherished and celebrated for living God’s plan for them “to the max.”
As pointed out in his remarks, Father Picinic reminded all present that Margaret, being born in 1911, has lived through 18 American presidents, beginning with William Howard Taft, and 10 popes, being born during the Pontificate of Saint Pius X. Margaret clearly is a wealth of history and perspective in a changing world.
Margaret has constantly shown the parish how to live life “to the max” through her love, prayers and dedication to her faith and to her bishop, priests and deacons of the diocese. As I said about Margaret, “God isn’t finished with Margaret yet. God knows that she continues to teach us all how to love him and how to love each other, by the way she lives her life of charity, prayer and joyful sharing of herself. She constantly brings a smile to the face of each one she encounters every day.”
VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services of the Camden Diocese has embarked on a plan to gather the names and contact information of all the centenarians in our diocese. From this list, we will be able to recognize and celebrate those who are graced by God’s gift of many years and offer them and their families assistance as needed in the care of these wonderful people to help them all live life “to the max.” If you know of a fellow parishioner who is either 100 years of age or will be soon, please contact us with their name and contact information. VITALity personnel can be reached at 856-583-6123.
Deacon Jerry Jablonowski is executive director, VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services, Diocese of Camden.