Jane Parsons is the Pastoral Care Worker at Shanagolden Retirement Village and Aged Care in Pakenham. Father John Readman is a Shanagolden resident, who celebrated his 90th birthday and 60 years as a Priest this August. Together, they provide spiritual and emotional support to over 100 people.
My role at Shanagolden is to be a listening presence and bring spiritual and emotional support to the residents.
One day, when I was with one of the residents, her daughter came to visit. She had known me when I was nursing and said, “I knew I would run into you someday, nursing somewhere.” “I’m not nursing anymore,” I said. Before I could continue her mother interjected, “Yes you are, you are nursing our souls.”
There’s no typical working day for me. I don’t have a set program as what occurs overnight can dictate the flow of the next day. A resident might be made ‘palliative’, might even be dying, and this will direct my activities.
There are some regular tasks I do like organise weekly Masses, 1:1s with residents, parish meetings, and conducting various groups such as Spiritual Meditation; Advent Reflection; Grief and Loss.
I first met Father Readman at a morning tea at the Village three years ago. I had heard a “Priest” was moving in, so I introduced myself. I had never formally met him before, but had seen him around the Parishes as he sometimes did relief work. What sticks in my mind is that he always finished Mass with a joke – he always remembered the punch-lines.
Father can be definite in what he wants. He supports me in my role 110%. He often gives me books to read for “spiritual nourishment.”
He is a guiding light, and very approachable and non-judgemental. He has a quick sense of humour, is extremely generous and giving of his time.
He’s actively involved with both the Aged Care and Village residents. He visits all the new Village residents, regardless of religion. He is an endless source of energy and inspiration and has given me confidence and spiritual direction.
Life is fantastic at Shanagolden. There’s a lovely spirit here. People are relaxed; their life’s work is done. I’ve lived in lots of communities, and in many ways, this is the best.
I was born in Shepparton, and then my family moved to the Mallee to take up a soldier settlement farm during the height of the Depression. There’s a great spirit in the Mallee. Once you live there, it never leaves you. I still call myself a ‘Mallee boy.’
In my twenties, I entered the Corpus Christi Seminary in Werribee and was ordained in 1956. Soon after, I moved to Gippsland and became the Director of Catholic Education for the Dioscese of Sale. We had very little resources back then – it was a PR job, more than anything. After 18 years in that role, I relocated to Narre Warren and headed up the parish.
I moved into Shanagolden Village just a few years ago. I love it here.
As the resident priest, I conduct Mass at the Village twice a week, and am called upon to anoint people, both in the Village and the aged home next door.
I spend a lot of time with the residents and they’ve become like family to me.
I work closely with Jane. She’s marvellous at what she does. She is very kind and a wonderful listener. She also has a great sense of humour. I can’t speak highly enough of her. I follow her around like a puppy, really.
We’re a good team – I’m not sure how it works, but it just does. I know God has a hand in it.