Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 31, 2000
Francophone seniors want pastoral care
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Francophone seniors in the Edmonton area say pastoral care in their mother tongue is one of the services they desire the most.
More than 90 per cent of respondents to a survey on the lodging needs and support services said they wanted a place for reflection and prayer.
As well, 89 per cent said it was important to them that a centre be located close to a francophone parish.
Simone Doucette, a recent graduate of the master of education program at the University of Alberta and one of the two researchers, said since the francophone seniors community is predominantly Catholic, it was only natural to include pastoral care in the study.
"They are very strong in their faith," she said. "(Religion) is something many of them have known since they were young. Many of them have been attending Mass since they were very little. They want to continue with that."
Thérèse Conway, president of the Federation of French-Speaking Seniors of Alberta, agrees with Doucette.
"One area that people are very concerned is the sacrament of Reconciliation," said Conway, 68. "This is an issue for some people who can't have it in French. They don't feel at peace."
More than 50 seniors gathered at the Faculté Saint-Jean Jan. 20 to hear the results of the study conducted by Doucette and Faculté Saint-Jean professor, Florence Gobeil-Dwyer.
The study surveyed the needs for additional bilingual facilities for francophone seniors who often revert to their French mother tongue in their later years.
"No one really knows why, but some of these people as they get older will start speaking French even if they have been speaking English for the last 40 years," Doucette said. "So they feel more comfortable if they have someone else they can communicate with."
Without the availability of bilingual services, Doucette said many of the seniors feeling isolated. "They feel like they're in exile. A prison, that's almost like what it is."
Of the 536 respondents, more than 80 per cent said it was important for them to receive home care and continuing care services in French.
Of those surveyed in the Morinville, Beaumont, Legal and St. Albert area, 70 per cent said they are willing to leave their communities for such services.
The study will serve in favour of such groups as the one headed by Denis Collette when they go seeking government funding for housing projects.
Collette is president of the society which overlooks the operations of St. Joachim and St. Thomas manors, the only two francophone seniors facilities in Edmonton.
However, the manors are designated for more independent residents who can move about with little assistance. There are no francophone manors for seniors requiring long-term care.
Collette's group is working on building a $10-million lodge adjacent to St. Thomas d'Aquin Church in the Bonnie Doon area.
"This will be available to people who are looking into providing francophone services for seniors, so they can take this to the government," Doucette said. "Sometimes the government needs proof there is a need. This is it."