Residents, staff and officials of Altercare at Saint Joseph welcomed Bishop Nelson Perez for a visit, tour and light supper on March 7.
The facility, formerly operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor, is part of Altercare Integrated Health Services, which operates 28 facilities in Ohio and Michigan. Seven of those sites are in the Diocese of Cleveland, including the Saint Joseph facility in Warrensville Heights.
Father Joseph Goebel, a retired diocesan priest who has been a resident of Altercare at Saint Joseph for about five years, was among those to greet the bishop. Others included officers of Altercare Integrated Health Services, which was founded in 1973 by the Schroer family, longtime Lakewood residents, and officials of the Saint Joseph facility.
Ursuline Sister Margaret Link, director of spiritual care services for Altercare, said the residents, staff and corporate officials were thrilled the bishop was able to visit.
“They have been looking forward to this so much,” she said, as the bishop stopped in a large meeting room where residents were playing bingo. He went table by table greeting everyone, posing for photos and even chatting in Spanish with one woman from Peru.
“It’s so great to be here,” the bishop said, as he shook hands with everyone.
One assisted living resident, who happens to be the mother of a diocesan priest, invited the bishop to see her unit and to take some photos.
He also stopped by the large chapel, where Sister Margaret said Mass is celebrated daily. Residents who are unable to attend can watch the liturgy, which is streamed live, in their rooms or apartments. She said priests from nearby parishes, John Carroll University and others are scheduled to celebrate Mass. Bishop Roger Gries also has been among the celebrants. Several extraordinary ministers take the Eucharist to residents who are ill or unable to attend Mass. Four Ursuline sisters help with this ministry.
Bishop Perez offered a blessing in the chapel before continuing his tour.
He saw model suites and Father Goebel invited him to visit his apartment in the independent living wing. Father Goebel, who was ordained in 1950, retired in 1996. His last diocesan assignment was as chaplain at Euclid General Hospital. Before that he was pastor at St. Bede Parish in Mentor. He also served at several other parishes during his ministry.
Sister Margaret said Father Goebel celebrates Mass when he’s able. He also visits and helps minister to residents of the facility.
“Spiritual care is very important to us,” said Gerald Schroer Jr., a St. Ignatius High School alumnus. “And it’s very important to us to preserve the Catholicity of this facility.” He said when his family’s firm took over the facility from the Little Sisters of the Poor, they maintained the faith-filled atmosphere. Halls and other areas of the building are dedicated to Mary and saints. There are statues and religious pictures in many public areas of the building.
Altercare at Saint Joseph offers nursing home care, independent living, assisted living, rehabilitation services, hospice and palliative care.
When the bishop learned about one hospice resident who was near death, he joined a chaplain and went to her room where he anointed her.
Afterward, Bishop Perez and the Altercare officials continued their conversation over a light supper.