Friday 24 June 2011


Father Ignatius was on his way back from a school trip to the museum in the big city with the young children from St Andrew’s School.

The young seven-year olds were a little boisterous and excited after their first school outing; and the six adults on the bus had their work cut out keeping them in their seats. When everyone was seated, Mr Foster, the Headmaster, took a roll-call to ensure that no one was missing.

As the bus made its way slowly through the busy traffic the children discussed amongst themselves their museum visit and the souvenirs they had bought from the museum shop.

A few of them sitting next to Father Ignatius discussed the various ancient exhibits they had seen from years gone by and asked him which were his favorite.

“I wouldn’t say I had a favorite as such,” replied Father Ignatius, “but I suppose it is impressive how many of these exhibits have survived all these centuries and how much we have to learn from ancient civilizations …”

“Are you ancient?” asked a seven year old.

“I suppose I am …” replied the priest with a smile.

Mr Foster smiled too, but said nothing.

“Will they put ancient people like you in the museum? And people will come to see you?” asked another youngster.

“Now that’s a good idea …” replied the priest, “do you think anyone would be interested?”

“No …” replied another promptly, “old people are not interesting … my grand dad is old … he is 58 and he does not like burgers and milk-shake.”

“Ah … that’s the ultimate test of antiquity,” declared Father Ignatius, “being 58 and having a dislike for burgers and milk-shake!”

The children continued discussing amongst themselves and the priest started reading a book about Ancient Civilisation which he had bought from the museum.

About half-an-hour later he closed the book and looked up.

“Learn anything interesting Father?” asked Mr Foster.

“I suppose so … whilst reading this book I’ve been thinking about our attitude to age and ageing …”

“What do you mean?”

“We seem to be in awe at something ancient …” continued the priest, “we wonder at the pyramids, and ancient monuments and relics. We marvel at old paintings by the great masters … and in this country we even have some buildings listed so that they cannot be altered or pulled down because of their historical architectural significance …”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked the headmaster.

“Oh … nothing wrong as such … but I can’t help wondering how many old people here in Britain live alone. Their families having grown up and moved on, these old folk are rarely visited by friends or neighbours. Perhaps Social Security visits them every now and again …

“There are quite a few in our Parish you know …”

“Yes … it’s modern society I’m afraid …” said the headmaster glumly, “people are too busy living life to care about each other … or their old folks. Some are too eager to put their parents in an old-folks home … too busy to look after them I suppose … I can understand that …”

“Can you? Some countries do in fact honor and respect their old people. Sending them to an old-peoples’ home is unheard of in those countries. They all live together in large families and the grand-parents have a lot to contribute to the family and the children’s up-bringing …

“But as you say … it’s different here in Britain … our modern lifestyles make us more interested in an ancient vase or similar relic than in human beings … it's such a pity we don't value our old people as much as we value an old building ...”

“Perhaps the Government should have old-folks listed, just like buildings!” joked Mr Foster.

Father Ignatius smiled. “There’s one thing I’ve learnt from this book,” he said with a glint in his eyes, “you’d better make friends with an archaeologist … because the older you get the more interested they are in you!”

The headmaster laughed and then added “Perhaps we can do something about it Father … in a small way … in our Parish that is …”

“What … have our old people listed by the Government or get them to meet up with archaeologists?”

“Can we not organize a group of volunteers from the church to visit lonely parishioners in our midst? Help them with the shopping perhaps, or with small jobs in the home or garden? I could get some of our older pupils to accompany the adult volunteers. It would help our youngsters no end … teach them to respect and help their elders … we could also involve the other Catholic school in town …”

And the enthusiasm of Mr Foster, which started from a conversation on a bus, soon turned into reality in a matter of weeks. And it's still going strong in that small Parish community.


  1. Yes, yes, yes!!!

    Life has changed so much. Families are scattered, and the elderly are left to care for themselves; not in all cultures, but it is common in our culture. I thank God that my Grandparents never had to experience nursing homes.

    Mimi died short after being put into an Alheizmer's unit because she could no longer be cared for at home. There was one problem... one of us should have been with her 24 hours a day. It was a big mistake, but that is over.

    Our church has a program to reach out to people, but quite honestly, the church is so large that there are many, many people that are never seen, or that the Pastors never know about.

    Excellent blog, Victor. Amen!

  2. Hello Joey,

    It is sad that so many old folks are left alone. Near where I live I can count at least four houses where old people live alone. The problem is, it is often too difficult to approach them and offer help. Most old people feel a little hesitant, or too proud, or perhaps threatened, to accept help.

    It would be great if Churches and organised groups got together and visited these people at home. But as always ... folks are too busy these days!

    God bless.

  3. Absolutely beautiful Victor - I hope that this is a true story and that the idea catches on.

  4. Oh! How true this is in the U.S. too, Victor! People used to deeply respect the elderly and somehow this all changed and the elderly are so often sent to nursing homes when they no longer are deemed useful to society. Families have changed so much. I love the cultures that hold their elders in high esteem.

    Great story! I hope it's true too :)

  5. There is no longer the personal touch to life, it is quickly going and people are so selfish and arrogant.. Probably me also. Even families on Facebook communicate to each other on there instead of in person. SAD. God Bless.

  6. Hello Andie, Mary and Crystal Mary,

    Sadly, this is not a true story. At least the bit about people getting together and visiting old folks. What is true though, is that old people are often left alone by family and friends. Children grow up and move elsewhere in another town and, very often, don't even bother to get in contact. I've seen it often.

    Old people stay at home alone, often relying on "meals on wheels" (UK charity) to call on them daily with some hot food. Or the Social Security people to call when they can.

    There was a case of an old lady who went out once a week or so, took the bus to town, stayed on the bus until it return back to where she picked it up and got home again. In the UK old people get FREE bus tickets. The only reason she did this bus ride was to meet people. She sat and watched people getting on and off the bus.

    Other people leave a TV or radio on all day to hear another human voice. You can tell where old poeple live near me - they keep the lights on all night for fear of being alone.

    God bless.

  7. Victor,
    We have meals on wheels here in the US, too, thankfully. Reading your comment I see the very same things you mention in your country happening here. Maybe we should try to make this sory a true story somehow. It's definitely something that has been on my mind lately. I'm glad you posted about this situation concerning the elderly - perhaps it will open some eyes.

    Victor, I saw that you read Mary's post on Hope Echoes. I read it, too, and think it may be helpful concerning our new blog. I'm going to recommend it to the other authors.

    God bless :)

  8. Hi Victor. I wonder: If we, as a society, had more respect for our eldery, caring for them and looking to them for their wisdom and experience, perhaps we wouldn't have so much trouble facing old age ourselves. Maybe we would be happy to age gracefully and feel more peaceful about our physical signs of aging. I must go and read Mary's post. God bless.

  9. Hi Mary and Sue,

    We can pray that this becomes a true story in many places throughout the world. And that people do honor and look after their old folks; and learn from them rather than just cast them away as yesterday's news.

    God bless.

  10. Well told. Unfortunately there is a lot of truth in this story. There is a lot of the same in some parts of the U.S. as well.

    I sent you an email btw - not sure if you received it or it got caught up in your spam folder.

    God Bless you.

  11. Thanx Michael,

    Did not receive your email - lost in the post I suspect.

    God bless.

  12. Well done!! Excellent post! Thank you for writing this! Cathy



God bless you.