The Holy Family always tries to adapt to the inevitable and progressive ageing process of the Sisters. We want to ensure that those who have dedicated their whole life to the service of others will be able to spend the last stage of their life living out their commitment to the full.
We realise that we are getting old but we are often not ready to face that reality and to make the necessary changes to our way of living. Whether we like it or not, we are beginning a stage of life that is different from anything that has gone before. But as well as the losses we experience, we find that we have new opportunities. We need to adjust our mindset gradually and accept peacefully that the time is coming for us to begin “The Third Age”. This is when the Care Home appears on our horizon.
For us, a Care Home for the Elderly is, above all, a community – a space where we can look at old age in the eye and decide to “live until we die”. We know that life is a whole and if the first part has been very good, why should we expect the second half to be any less so?
Today we are going to look at Pinto – one of our four Care Homes in Spain.
Pinto is a small town. It is welcoming and cheerful with several green areas and plenty of low-level housing – ideal for its sixty thousand inhabitants. What is it like for the Holy Family in Pinto? It is a very suitable locality for them. Not only that, but it is the place where the Work of P.B. Noailles took root and grew in Spain. It was here that Mother Bonnat who was chosen by the Founder to establish the Holy Family in this country, found a place close to Madrid to house a group of orphans. It was a small group which she had gathered together as soon as she arrived in the capital, attracted as she was by her fondness for abandoned little girls.
In the middle of the nineteenth century (1856) a Holy Family Home for orphans was set up in Pinto with a lot of hardship and very little money. It went through many changes over the course of a century. Leaving aside the three years of the Civil War when it became a military hospital, Pinto was a college for orphaned girls and a private school for thirty years. Then it opened its doors to local girls and boys. When secondary education became obligatory in 1994, a new building was added. It continues to function now as part of the Santo Domingo Educational Trust like all the other Holy Family educational establishments in Spain.
The college buildings have also gone through several changes. The oldest part which was built in the nineteenth century was handed over to the Civil Administration of Pinto in the 60’s and is now the Municipal Cultural Centre. The chapel was given to the diocese of Getafe and became the parish church of the flourishing parish of San José. It has been refurbished architecturally and continues to serve the local congregation.
At the moment, the college also has spacious, well-kept sports grounds with two recently-built pavilions. There is a lovely orchard and garden on the adjoining land and that is where we find the modern and well-equipped Care Home. It is a three-storey building with forty-six en-suite single rooms. It also has two dining rooms and two chapels as well all the facilities needed in a home for the elderly.
Since the Sister-Carers were getting old themselves, the Province had to engage a company called AUSOLAN to help. This company has people specially trained for the care of the elderly and also looks after the kitchen, the laundry and the cleaning. The employees of the company have now become part of the Care Home Family. Thanks to their dedication, professionalism and sensitivity (very much appreciated by the community), the Sisters are very well looked after and, most importantly, continue to smile in their old age.
At the same time, the Sisters form a community. They have personal and community prayer, community meetings, liturgy preparation etc. They celebrate feasts together and take part in recreational activities. Recently, some of them prepared for Christmas and the Epiphany with great imagination and creativity. Normally, a group of Sisters spend some time each morning knitting warm gloves for needy people in the area. They also have exercises and spend time reading and looking at television. Each one can choose what she likes best and is most suitable for her current state of health.
Thanks to the college which for almost two centuries has kept the Holy Family spirit alive, and planted the seed not only among the pupils, their families and the staff but also in the town of Pinto, lasting bonds have been forged. These are still alive and there is a very good relationship between the Sisters and the local people. The house is open and every week a group of women use a room for prayer and reflection and come to the community Mass every day. They often meet the Sisters informally and share their joys and sorrows with them. The Sisters offer their services to the parish too – on the parish council, with Caritas, in the parish office etc. One Sister is a weekly volunteer with “The Bridge of Hope” in Madrid. She works with Sisters of thirteen other Congregations to help migrants. The whole community share in her interest and work for the people who come to the Centre.
The Sisters also establish new relationships among themselves which stimulate and support them. They remember with gratitude the words of our Founder, “My dear Daughters, live and die in the bosom of the Holy Family lavishing on one another the loving care that befits affection to the sisters”. (Preface to the General Rules 1851)
The Pinto Community