Janet Patterson and her husband, Tom, are lay residents of Saint Charles Senior Living Community in Carthagena, Ohio. St. Charles is also the motherhouse of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Janet wrote this tribute to life at Saint Charles.
By Janet Patterson
My husband Tom and I moved to Saint Charles Senior Living Center in April 2021. But we began forming our plan in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020.
Our home on a lovely lake in northeast Indiana was one that we had designed and enjoyed immensely. But when we both found ourselves in our 70s, one later than the other, in the midst of a pandemic, isolated from our families, attending Mass only on television or the internet, the work of a lakefront home became harder and loomed larger.
So we started to think about where we saw ourselves living if we didn’t stay there. That’s when St. Charles entered the conversation.
Tom began his connection to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood early in life when his cousins Patrick and Robert Patterson went off from Rome City, Ind., to Brunnerdale High School Seminary in Canton, Ohio.
After eighth grade, Tom packed up and followed them.
A lot of life happened between 1958, his first year at Brunnerdale, and 2021, including his education, the U.S. Army, marriage to his late wife Emily, their daughters, the banking business, Emily’s passing from cancer, and later our marriage in 2005.
Over the next 15 years, we visited St. Charles Center several times, including the 50th reunion of Tom’s Brunnerdale class and the 50th jubilee of the ordination of Fr. Pat Patterson, C.PP.S.
When we considered selling our home and moving to a senior community, it seemed to us that St. Charles was the place where we could just be.
All of this leads to the things that I have come to appreciate about St. Charles Center.
First, I appreciate the rhythm of life here. I’m a cradle Catholic who has always tried to be attentive to my faith. Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate more and more the seasons of the Church year. After my late husband’s death in 1998, that rhythm became a balm for my grieving heart. Now, I have a chapel right down the hall, and the rhythm of the days is added to the rhythm of the year. There is an ease in knowing that at 8:25 every morning in the chapel we can greet the day with the Seven Offerings of the Precious Blood.
Over these last months, I have come to appreciate the beauty and charity in these offerings and find they start my day on a very hopeful note. Our prayers for the sanctification of all people, the unity of all Christians and the special needs of our enemies calls me to a deeper level of love for my neighbors not just here but throughout the world.
I appreciate the sense of community that we share. Here we live together, share meals together, do laundry together and pray together. I truly believe that we care about each other in a way that allows each of us to be who we are and pursue what interests us. This is a gift we give to each other and I am grateful.
I also appreciate the history of this place. I am fascinated by the origins of the village of Carthagena, Ohio, the history of St. Charles Center, and the role of the Precious Blood presence here. As a former military wife and the daughter of a father whose job moved us a few times in my childhood, I am just a bit envious of the roots that so many families have here in Mercer County and their stability throughout their lives.
I appreciate the beauty of this place and the care shown for the land and the surroundings. When I walk in the morning, I’ve already noticed the changes the seasons bring and the sounds and the movement of the birds and animals that share this piece of the Earth.
I appreciate the way the members of the Precious Blood community welcome lay people to their home. I am grateful for the care they take in offering our daily liturgies and the energy they spend in preparing music and homilies for every day of the year.
And I appreciate the conversations that have enlightened me on everything from the spirituality of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood to life in the missions of South America to the differences between straw and hay.
Most of all, I appreciate the way this community has embraced us as residents. I pray that we can extend that embrace as new folks come here to make St. Charles their home.