Sunday, August 8, 2004

Nuns, too old and too few, leave hospice



The Associated Press

PARMA - For nearly 50 years, the Dominican sisters of Hawthorne have fed, bathed and cared for more than 12,000 cancer patients at the Holy Family Cancer Home.

But their work there will soon end when lay staff take over their duties and the nuns return to their New York convent.

"Obviously, there is a certain sadness," said Tom Mullen, who leads the Cleveland Diocese's health and human services secretariat. "But when we said, 'Let's talk about the transition and keeping the mission alive,' you could see the joy return to their faces. I have such respect for these women. We stand upon their shoulders."

One of those women, 80-year-old Sister Mary Benedict, came to Holy Family in 1968 when the hospice was licensed to care for 100 patients. Today it can take 37, even though only 12 beds were filled this week.

Catholic Charities last week agreed to keep the hospice open with lay staff. The nine nuns working there will return to their motherhouse in Hawthorne, N.Y., to be reassigned.

The order runs five hospices, but the sisters' dwindling numbers and advanced ages make it too difficult to continue running all of them. Of those at Holy Family, only two nuns are able to provide bedside care.

"Good Irish genes," said Sister Kevin, 76, one of those who continues to bring meals and medicine to the patients.

Their order is down to 65 members from a peak of 125. The number of Catholic nuns in the United States has decreased from 180,000 in 1965 to 73,000 last year.




ENQUIRER COLUMNS
Bronson: America did the right thing in freeing Iraq
Crowley: Clooney's old newspaper columns back to haunt him
Boys organize local ALS walk
Kentucky voters involved early this year

TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Nevada: No deal on Fernald
Specialty Saturdays make visit to Findlay Market a tasty treat
Video device alters home nursing
Ohio hospitals skeptical of health-care settlement
Babies to undergo more tests for disease
Police using e-mails to alert community
Nuns, too old and too few, leave hospice
Ohio paying for DNA tests on felons from victims' fund
Local news briefs

KENTUCKY HEADLINES
Hot on the trail of cold cases
Potential dropouts get extra help
Democratic foe throwing high, hard ones at Bunning
Bands, speakers urge teens to vote
Florence Baptist ready to grow
Farm's baby water buffalo prefers to nurse from goat
Official says entertainment district never relaxed dress code regulations
Families say hospital unsanitary, unsafe
Mother says man desecrated son's memorial

EDUCATION
Walton-Verona families laid back about drug testing
Sorry, students: Cafeteria work shuffling menus
Schools assured of share

NEIGHBORS
Agency to address lead at public Mason meeting
Ohioan among Olympic volunteers
Hebron firefighters race on TV tonight

LIVES REMEMBERED
'Huby' Heard performed with top acts
Nurse Mary V. Enzweiler, mother of 8
Hilda Ramler ran Florence restaurant