Serving senior citizens with up-to-date technology

Friday, October 23, 2015 - Updated: 7:00 am
By Bob De Witt Correspondent

Ed and Mildred Giel have been blessed with a big family and a strong faith. Sacrificial gifts from Our Campaign for The Church Alive! have brought yet another blessing.

The Giels and other residents at Paramount Senior Living at South Hills are now able to view the daily Mass and rosary online through ChristianAssociatesTV.org.

Residents of Oakmont Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation and St. Augustine Plaza senior citizen high-rise in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood also participate in the program. The campaign provided HD television monitors, laptop computers and audio equipment.

“Watching the Mass and saying the rosary helps keep me close to where I hope to go someday,” Mildred said. “I love it.” She and her husband, former members of Resurrection Parish in Pittsburgh’s Brookline neighborhood, have been married 71 years and have five children, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Her friend, Joan Heinecke, never misses the rosary or daily Mass at Paramount if she can help it.

“I like the fact that Bishop Zubik leads the rosary,” said Heinecke, a former member of St. Wendelin Parish in Pittsburgh’s Carrick neighborhood. “I went to Catholic schools and it’s always been important to me.”

Christian Associates TV communicates the Gospel to all, including the elderly, shut-ins and people with disabilities, evangelizing those who have left the church or may not know Jesus. Founded in the 1980s, the channel was run by a Christian organization.

The diocese took over operations in 2012 and converted it from a cable signal that only reached neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh to an Internet channel that connects with everyone online. The improvement allows live streaming of special events such as the recent Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass at St. Paul Cathedral. Shows for all of the participating Christian traditions were upgraded, and more Catholic programming was added.

“Pope Francis invites us to seek out and welcome those who are searching for God,” said Deacon Jeffrey Hirst, director of Christian Associates TV. “The website can assist the elderly and disabled in deepening their faith so that they can better learn Jesus, love Jesus and live Jesus in their daily lives.”

Kelly McGowan, activities director at Paramount Senior Living in Baldwin, makes sure they are ready when the rosary airs at 11 a.m.

“Once we were a little late in turning on the equipment and we heard about it from the residents,” McGowan said with a laugh. “We love that some of the programming is from Pittsburgh. That’s very important to everyone who participates.

“The residents used to say the rosary on their own or watch DVDs,” McGowan said. “But they wanted to participate in the Mass and the rosary with the bishop.”

Plans call for expanding the outreach to other senior facilities.

Mildred Giel expressed appreciation to all the campaign donors.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she said. “This lifts my spirits. There are so many things to pray for.”

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