The following comes from a June 11 article by Clara Fox in Angelus, the online newspaper of the LA archdiocese:
Tom Wilson was self-sufficient well into his late 80s, until an allergic reaction to prescribed medications left him in need of an assisted living facility. He initially was moved into a secular, for-profit facility.
“It became apparent very quickly that it would not be an option for him long term,” his daughter, Jean Beckman, said. “It was clean, it was neat, it was tidy. The people seemed efficient, but it was lacking care and dignity and a personal connection.”
Despite following regulation codes, there were definite gaps in proper care. Beckman remembers calling for assistance when her father asked to use the restroom. “They said, ‘Oh, just let him go in his pants and we’ll change him.’
“And I just thought that is not respecting a person’s dignity to let that happen. That’s when we turned to Santa Teresita.”
The Carmelite-run assisted living center in Duarte, California, is home to about 20 residents. They also have a skilled nursing home for about 100 patients.
Beckman is grateful to Santa Teresita for the love and care they showed her father during his last two years of life.
For Sister Mary Clare, the CEO of Santa Teresita, her work is informed by the belief that the elderly are deposits of wisdom in our society. They need to feel they have a necessary role.
She also says that the final years are a time to prepare for heaven. Don’t waste or hasten these years, the sister says. These years are a time to become as beautiful as possible for our final home.
“The sisters are very generous about trying to get their residents involved in things so they’re not lonely and they’re not bored,” Beckman says. Many activities are offered to the residents, such as computer training and gardening, but Wilson’s favorite was teaching reading to young kids from the kindergarten run by the Carmelites.
“My father used to tutor children to read twice a week,” Beckman says. “And that was the highlight of my father’s existence at Santa Teresita.” She added, “It was a great interaction and a great activity for him and it made him feel so needed and proud and valued.”
Beckman says her father found a special place at Santa Teresita.
“The sisters create an environment that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. This is a vocation for them, not just a job. And it’s very clear that they love the residents.”
She adds, “When my dad was there — as hard as it was to put him in a residence — I knew he was being loved and valued and treated as a member of the family.”