Catholic churches, institutions take precautions in heat, humidity

| July 20, 2011 | 0 Comments

Catholic Eldercare in Minneapolis has had several clients attending its day care program for “extra days” because of the recent extreme heat and the clients’ lack of air-conditioning at home, said Nikki Stenger, adult day program director.

“We definitely see the importance of seniors coming to our program while it is extremely hot outside,” she said July 19. “The biggest concern we have is the possibility of dehydration and overheating.”

Although supplying water is standard practice, Stenger said consuming liquids is encouraged more when it is extremely hot outside.

Dave Brennan, administrator of Benedictine Health Center in Minneapolis, said that staff at the skilled nursing facility have been making extra rounds with water, popsicles and other beverages to “keep people hydrated as much as possible.”


The Catholic Spirit asked parishes if the excessive heat was impacting their parishioners or neighbors and what they are doing to help. Following are a couple of responses.

» “We have several people who bring holy Communion to shut-ins on Friday or Sunday  and check in on families. Most people have a family member taking care of their loved ones in air-conditioning and lots of hydration. We, of course, have air-conditioning in the church, so Mass and confession times are not affected.

“One thing to pray for is the farm animals — farmers do what they can for them, but especially the big ones (cows), are having a hard time. They don’t want to eat, are confused (wander more, probably trying to find a way out of the heat), and don’t produce milk. No offers for solutions here, but just to pray.”

Father Peter Richards
Pastor of St. Michael, St. Michael

» “The Missionaries of Charity began their two-week summer camp here at [St. Stephen in Minneapolis] today and due to the heat we have had to readapt our schedule a bit. Usually we go to the park two blocks away and play soccer, on the jungle gym and jump rope.  Instead, we have been inside with the little classes, painting crosses with the message of ‘I Thirst’ and will go to the parish gym to play before lunch.

“During the opening mass, Father had to remind the kids to sit straight, as we don’t have air in the church, but fans. The kids tend to get a little droopy in the moments when they need to pay attention a little more.

“For the following days, we plan on continuing with the art projects, a eucharistic hour (with as many fans as we can find), and a trip to the water park on Lexington and 94 — the kids love this day and it comes at a perfect time! And it is a blessing to have the school gym — while it is not air conditioned, it is inside and there are a few ceiling fans!

“As well, a few ice pops help cool off the kids either after the games or just before they leave to enter back into the heat on their way home (many kids have to walk to their home).

“Overall the positive attitude of the MCs is what powers the kids to go forward in spite of the onset of droopiness from the heat!  Otherwise, these kids might just be inside watching TV, playing the computer or, even worse, in their house without air huddled by a fan. Here they are safe, well fed, cool and learning about the faith in a positive and welcoming environment!”

Jennifer Smeby
St. Stephen, Minneapolis

» “While we are proud of our century-old church building, St. Agnes lacks air conditioning. A newly installed cooling unity extracts the hottest air from the ceiling, replacing it with cooler evening air, but even that has limits. Frankly, I was amazed that as many people turned out as did, many choosing to come for the two earliest Masses, at 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Due to the humidity, the church floor was as wet as on any winter Sunday morning following a snowstorm.

“ We coped by leaving the chandeliers off, keeping the doors closed, and providing ice water for our servers. Most Importantly, I scratched the 1,200-word written homily, replacing it with a new one, just half the length. I noticed that the lectionary provided a short form of the Gospel. This week I took full advantage
of the option! No one seemed to complain!”

Father John Ubel
Pastor of St. Agnes, St. Paul

“We at St. Francis de Sales have two campuses, between which we divide the services. The sanctuary on the St. James campus does not have AC and so, for the rest of the summer, all daily morning Masses are being held at
the St. Francis de Sales Church which does have AC.”

Isaac Alderman
Executive assistant to the pastor
St. Francis de Sales, St. Paul

“The high humidity is causing the carpet in St. Pius X Church to buckle; it is affecting the glue. It helps to keep the air conditioning running. We are preparing for Xcel Energy to restrict our A/C usage.”

Larry Erickson
Operations director
St. Pius X, White Bear Lake

“We recently put in air conditioning this past spring and we are very grateful to have it now. We put up on the sign outside the church — ‘Come to our cool Church’ so I opened Mass this past weekend with ‘Welcome to our cool Church’ and thanked all who contributed to purchasing of the air conditioning.”

Father Gregory Esty
St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Paul Park

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