ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) – If you flipped on the television around this time last year, you may have caught a glimpse of Stacey Jackson alongside religious sisters in an episode of “The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns,” a Lifetime network reality series following five women as they discerned the religious life.
Fast-forward a year later and Jackson again is surrounded by religious sisters, but this time off camera. She’s not donning a novice’s habit, but rather an engagement ring and the desire to serve a demographic often forgotten or neglected.
The 27-year-old is spearheading a ministry called Serving the Aged Lovingly Today, or SALT, a weeklong mission program through the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm in Germantown, N.Y. – featured on the television program – that connects young women with the elderly through service.
Grounded in pastoral care, program participants join nursing home residents in their everyday activities and play games and sit, talk and pray with them.
After a successful pilot program last summer, three immersion weeks are planned at Carmelite-run nursing homes or assisted-living facilities during 2016: June 20-25 in Staten Island, N.Y.; July 18-23 in Fort Thomas, Ky.; and Aug. 1-6 in Dublin, Ireland.
Geared toward college-age women, SALT welcomes participants of all ages and faiths. No previous experience is required. Young women stay at the convent or nearby while serving at a nursing home.
Hour-long enrichment sessions are interspersed throughout the week to give the women tools to guide their interactions. Discussions include compassionate listening, ministering to individuals with dementia and the meaning of pastoral care.
Editor’s note: Applications for the SALT mission program are available online at bit.ly/CarmeliteMission.