Mary and Paul Kennedy and Sr. Mary Rose Martin see the spiritual needs of retired people.


Mary and Paul Kennedy and Sr. Mary Rose Martin see the spiritual needs of retired people.

April 28, 2014

Sister Mary Rose Marrin is attempting to fill a ministry gap in the Archdiocese of Toronto for a demographic that is continuing to grow: those reaching their golden years.

"The fact of the matter is that there are many, many more older people and they are living longer," said the Sister of St. Joseph. "And the Church is not there to support them."

While Marrin acknowledges that many parishes have social groups, clubs and events for those in the second half of life, there is little happening to address the need of spiritual growth during retirement.

"As we get older, our potential for spiritual growth increases," she said. "Also during that second half of life people have to deal with more loss than at any other period. That becomes the central task of the maturing years, to live through those (losses)."

That's why Marrin has been visiting parishes across Toronto since the fall of 2013 offering Spiritual Growth in the Second Half of Life workshops. She discusses a variety of topics, from loss and forgiveness to maintaining and strengthening relationships. Groups have ranged from as few as 15 to as many as 70.

Marrin says her workshops are not to be seen as a catechism refresher but rather a self-reflection program.

"People need to have guidance and they need help in reflecting on their own life because reflecting leads to insight and insight leads to wisdom and people need skills and guidance and support to grow through this," she said. "Otherwise we will not have this cohort of wise people to make their contribution to the Church and the world."

Paul Kennedy and his wife, Mary, went through the four-stage program with Marrin at St. Michael's Cathedral. He feels it has positively impacted their lives.

"The key thing it did for me was to confirm that we are getting older reasonably well," said Kennedy, 74. "You can't mourn the things you are losing (but) you can reach out a little harder to people in your family and outside. That is what it did for me."

Now that he has completed the program, Kennedy recognizes the need for it.


"Each of us has something to pass on to others, how to live through this period of life well," he said. "Every parish is going to need it. Look around inside any church and the proportion of grey hair to other colours is pretty high, so I can just feel that it is needed and going to be increasingly needed."

Kennedy continued by saying that if the opportunity arose, he would be keen on learning how to facilitate the program himself to establish the ministry at one of the three parishes he frequents.

Fortunately for him that opportunity exists.


"I am also doing a program, which is a pilot program, to train people for the ministry," said Marrin, who received her certification to facilitate the program at the Johnston Institute for Senior Adult Ministry.

Marrin is booked into the fall but said she hopes to continue the program well beyond that.

"I hope to do this for another couple of years to spread the word and to help get some people ready to carry it on," she said. "People are looking for support and guidance, and for enlightenment as they move through their maturing years. This is a vehicle for that."

Letter to the Editor – 05/26/14