On 22 June, the Most Rev Peter A Comensoli, Archbishop of Melbourne, paid a memorable visit to residents and staff at Estia Health’s Melton South home, accompanied by Fr Alex Balingit Clemente RCJ from St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Melton South.

Estia Health operates 75 homes in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, each year caring for more than 8,000 residents from all walks of life and supporting them and their families at an incredibly important time in their lives.

The visit, to anoint and give Holy Communion to the home’s Catholic residents, was the brainchild of one of the home’s enrolled nurses, Patricia.

Lifestyle coordinator Sue, knowing how touched residents would be by the Archbishop’s presence, reached out to St Anthony’s Catholic Church to arrange the visit.

Residential Aged Care Manager Melissa greeted Archbishop Comensoli and Fr Clemente and gave them special visitors an introduction to the home, highlighting the close-knit community and dedicated care provided to residents, before guiding the special visitors to a beautifully prepared area where residents and staff eagerly awaited their arrival.

In the communal activity room, the setting for the visit, two tables were laid with white cloths and lovingly adorned with religious statues and candles to create a reverent, welcoming atmosphere for visitors, residents and staff alike. A gold-framed cross-stitch of The Last Supper was on prominent display, with a red carpet laid down the centre of the room to create an aisle.

Before commencing the prayers, Archbishop Comensoli took time to greet each resident in person, a gesture deeply appreciated by those gathered.

Following introductions, the Archbishop, robed for the occasion, led those gathered in prayer, inviting all to join in the Our Father before proceeding to anoint Catholic residents and offer blessings to others, filling the room with a profound sense of peace and joy.

Musical accompaniment provided by Naim, a guitarist from St Anthony’s Parish, enriched the liturgy and provided an additional connection to the St Anthony’s Melton South parish community.

At the conclusion of the group gathering, having expressed a desire to see residents who were unable to attend the communal ceremony, Archbishop Comensoli’s visit continued beyond the group setting to ensure all who wished to receive a blessing had that opportunity.

The Archbishop visited those too frail to attend the main gathering in their rooms, offering blessings and the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

A number of residents were moved to tears by the visit, and many shared their heartfelt thanks with both the Archbishop and Fr Clemente, as well as the staff who had organised the visit.

The visit, a precious opportunity for encounter, and one that brought immense joy and spiritual comfort to the residents, took place in the lead-up to the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, which we celebrate on 28 July this year.

Banner image: Archbishop Peter with Estia Health Melton South resident, Jana.

All photos by Kyla-Jane Rickard, courtesy of Estia Health.