Attending to Interfaith Spirituality at Paul's Run

November 7, 2022

Paul’s Run Retirement Community in Northeast Philadelphia, PA, serves the spiritual needs of a large population of Jewish, Protestant and Catholic residents. In an effort to offer programs and services to meet the needs of such a diverse population, Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Care, Michelle Wildridge, has organized numerous celebrations, services and prayer sessions along with other members of the Paul’s Run team, intended to spiritually care for the large multicultural population.

“In addition to my personal involvement with programs intended to commemorate holidays for people of all faiths who live in the community, I will also be coordinating with the Culinary Services team to offer special foods to accompany the individual holidays that further reflect and embrace the cultural and religious traditions inherent in the various residents’ faiths,” explains Chaplain Michelle. “Residents also enjoy preparing and sharing their own unique recipes with one another, regardless of their individual faiths. They enjoy learning about one another’s traditions,” she adds.

In recapping events that have taken place this fall, Michelle reports, “Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were observed during services well attended by residents and delivered by local rabbis.”

In November, to commemorate Thanksgiving, on Wednesday, November 23rd, there will be a prayer service for residents in all levels of care, and Chaplain Michelle will be visiting residents in the Paul’s Run Healthcare center on December 23rd.

Advent marks the start of a season of preparation that is a time of reflection because it invokes feelings of hope and expectation,” Chaplain Michelle explains. She continues, “During the period of Advent, there will be a Devotional Group which will meet on November 29th, December 6th, December 13th, and December 20th to do reading and meditations, from The Lutheran Congregational Services Advent Devotional to which some Paul’s Run residents have contributed writings. The word Advent derives from the Latin adventus, meaning “arrival” or “coming” from the word advenire (ad-“ to” venire “come”.  Advent is a reminder of how the Jewish people waited for the Messiah and how Christians wait for the second coming of Christ today.”

Julia Menzo, director of community outreach for Lutheran Congregational Services and Liberty Lutheran adds, “Given that LCS seeks to be a resource to congregations, it is always the hope that the Advent Guide brings a bit of peace in the midst of holiday preparations that can sometimes seem overwhelming.”   

Michelle adds to that sentiment, “There will be tree and chapel decorating during Advent as well to add to the reverential and celebratory mood of the holidays. Throughout Sunday services, the Advent candles will be lit with resident participation.”

While the specific dates for Hanukkah decorating are as yet confirmed, they are expected to take place on December 12th or 13th.

The much anticipated “Latkepalooza” event will take place on December 20th, in the Greenhouse, when Latkes are prepared and served to all residents by Alla Orlovskaya, who is one of the Household Coordinators from Personal Care. Alla adds, “Everyone loves the Latkes and enjoys eating them, even if they aren’t Jewish!”

Additionally, to commemorate the Jewish holidays, there will be a daily candle lighting for Healthcare and Personal Care and Independent Living residents during Hanukkah with rabbis participating. Chaplain Michelle will be here every night to help with the Healthcare center and to involve independent living residents.

Every year, Paul’s Run honors those who have passed with a special bi-annual Memorial Service which this year will take place on December 15th.

Many Christians throughout the world enjoy attending Christmas Eve Candlelight Services on the 24th of December, and Paul’s Run residents will have the opportunity to similarly participate in a candlelight service on Christmas Eve as well. Some residents join their families on Christmas Day celebrations off-site, but for those remaining at Paul’s Run that day, there will be a Christmas Mass on December 25th

Further holiday recognition and celebrations will embrace Kwanzaa, and to that end, there will be nightly candle lighting from December 26th– January 1st 2023.