The Catholic community gathered on a weeknight as they do on a regular basis. Some people walked quickly across the campus to get to the chapel. A few others took a bit more time, arriving in wheelchairs or using scooters or walkers.
The weekly Rosary recitation is clearly important for the 35 or so people present in the nondenominational chapel at Friendship Village senior living and retirement community in Sunset Hills.
“It gives me great peace and comfort to be with my friends I see every day,” said Valerie Rauscher. “To have it right here is marvelous. And we have Mass every Saturday or can shuttle to St. Paul Church in Fenton on Sundays.”
Rita Bernard, a St. Justin Martyr parishioner, calls the prayer gathering “a special time.”
The participants offer prayers for fellow residents and family members living and deceased. A family prayer that is recited was written by resident Bernie Dolan.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie here,” Dolan said. “It’s a very holy half hour. We all need it.”
Age 96, Dolan and his wife, Loretta, have been married 70 years. They’re from St. Justin Parish and find it’s helpful to pray the Rosary with a group of fellow Catholics. They moved in as strangers, they said, and now have dozens of new friends.
Charles Scherrer, 83, has been a parishioner of St. Elizabeth of Hungary since 1961. As a resident of Friendship Village Sunset Hills for the last few years, he offered to lead residents in praying a Rosary weekly shortly after moving there. While many people are responsible for the tight-knit Catholic community at the senior living development, Scherrer is considered the glue holding it together, other residents say. Friendship Village is operated by a faith-based nonprofit organization delivering continuing care across all levels.
Scherrer worked with Father James Mason, rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, to get photographs of the Stations of the Cross at the seminary put on 24 x 18 boards that fit on easels and can be stored when not in use at the nondenominational chapel. “It’s so you can better visualize what the Lord was going through,” Scherrer said.
As many as 65 people attended the Stations of the Cross in Lent.
Scherrer is active in the Knights of Columbus, the Serra Club, Knights of Holy Sepulchre and right-to-life causes.
He resists attention. “I do this to show honor and serve my Lord,” he said. “There’s an awful lot of us out there who do a lot for the Church. I enjoy my faith and am very close to it. When there’s opportunities to serve, I try to do it.”
Growing up in St. Louis in a family of seven children, Scherrer went to Holy Redeemer School in Webster Groves, attending daily Mass. At 15 years old, the assistant pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish in Webster Groves asked him and three others to start a Junior Legion of Mary to call on other young people and help them in their faith. As part of the devotion to Mary they would pray the Rosary every day. He carries that same Rosary in his pocket to this day.
While a college student at Saint Louis University, he helped create a fraternity for the servers of Mass. An extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at his parish, he volunteers at Mercy Hospital South and at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in the cancer, leukemia and transplant areas.
Scherrer was instrumental in getting everyone together, said Lois Pollard, a member of St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood. “It’s a community that comes together in prayer,” she said. “We’re all one community.”
Another resident, Lee Robben of St. Justin Martyr Parish, said it helped people relate to each other. “We’re amazed at how many Catholics there are here,” she said.
>> Family Prayer
Oh God, send your Holy Spirit,
Holy Mother and our
Guardian Angel to be with us
every moment of our lives.
Cause us to make right
judgments in everything we do
today and every day.
Cause us to live our lives
in a manner pleasing to you,
one that will bring peace and joy
to ourselves, our loved ones
and those we meet on the way,
and eternal peace when we die.
Grant that we may live
today as if tongiht to die.