In the coming months, we’ll be connecting with different Matthew 25 Initiative ministries, hearing about their work and the impact being a part of the M25i community is having. Today, I had the privilege of speaking with Carol Herman, Mission Administrator for St. Lazarus Mission in Dayton, OH. Read on and be encouraged!
“Before receiving the Matt. 25 initiative grant, we were a small organization that received pats on the back for being a “nice ministry to little old ladies.” After being recognized by Matthew 25 as a ministry to an increasing and forgotten part of the body of Christ, folks have begun to wake up to the immense need and are being spurred to action.” – Carol Herman, Mission Administrator
Carol Herman manages the details and logistics of the ministry and works with her husband, Fr. Chris Herman, who manages the big-picture and leadership of St. Lazarus Mission. By bringing pastoral care to nursing homes, particularly through communion and prayer services, the mission is changing the culture of facilities as the church becomes part of the fabric of the community.
St. Lazarus Mission not only ministers to Christ’s scattered sheep living in nursing homes, they minister with them, bringing purpose and hope to our brothers and sisters who are lonely and forgotten. They remind residents that they are the church in their nursing homes. Being confined in a building does not mean residents are unable to extend the hands of Christ and serve their community. By visiting their neighbor who cannot get out of bed, or praying together, residents are given new hope and purpose for this season of their lives.
Recently, one of their parish’s nursing facilities has had to close. The hand of God is visibly sending His people out to build His church. Now in several new facilities, residents have the opportunity to reach out to new neighbors and St. Lazarus Mission plans to establish parish in at least two, if not more of these new facilities. And being a part of Matthew 25 is helping make that possible.
The seeds of this ministry were planted decades ago. In the early 90’s, the Hermans found themselves inactive in ministry after the birth of their first child. While watching TV one evening, they looked at each other and asked, “What are we doing?” Having made time for TV, surely there was time for ministry. Fr. Christ recalled his mother taking him and his four siblings weekly to visit the elderly in nursing homes. It seemed like a good place to start. They began visiting nursing homes weekly, and as they built relationships with these overlooked precious souls, say they were “hooked.”
Since then, the ministry has grown and the vision has been refined, inviting more people to join in the movement to incorporate the 1.4 million people living in America’s nursing homes into the outside body of Christ.
To have the Church endorse the ministry through a Matthew 25 grant has not only alleviated the financial burdens of the ministry, but affirmed the vision and calling of St. Lazarus Mission. It has highlighted the ministry and spread the word throughout the diocese, rousing support and participation from new sources.
Being a Matthew 25 ministry is not just about finances and expanded opportunity, it’s also about being part of a community. We are in this together, reaching out in new ways, bringing and expanding the Kingdom in our churches, neighborhoods, cities, and world. Let’s spur one another on to good works. Let’s keep this conversation going. More to come…
To find out more about St. Lazarus Mission, visit their website: http://lazarusmission.org/