By Anna Schulten
The North Star Catholic
Gina Del Rosario’s work as the director of the Juneau Pioneer Home has given her unique opportunities to minister to the residents’ physical and spiritual needs over the past eight years. “This is more than a job to me,” said Gina. “I have worked for the state for over 30 years, but this is different. For me, it’s a vocation.”
The welcoming and open-door atmosphere has shifted since the onset of COVID-19; no visitors were allowed except under extraordinary circumstances to protect the residents. A priest used to visit the residents for Mass on Saturday mornings, but now Gina attends the noon Mass at St. Paul’s on her lunch breaks and brings back Communion on a daily basis, Monday through Friday, along with words of encouragement and highlights from the day’s homily. “Several residents look forward to this every day, and they come out of their rooms and participate more often,” she said.
Encouragement and engagement are essential to Gina’s work. “Many of the elders in the Pioneer Home need physical assistance with activities of daily living, and it brings them happiness to know that they can still make a difference, that life is still worth living,” Gina said. “Even if you can’t do what you used to do, you can still make an impact: your presence, your smile, your kind words. St. Therese says to do little things with great love. At the end of the day, our job is to share joy and be present to each other. It’s very rewarding to be able to help others, even in little ways.”
Gina’s presence of faith is often welcomed: “We don’t force faith on anyone. However, closer to the end of life, I ask the elders if they’d like me to pray, and they always welcome a prayer.” Gina noted that many people are not comfortable talking about God or praying in public for fear of offending someone, but fear has not stopped her from living her faith.
In addition to her ministry at the Juneau Pioneer Home, Gina has been a catechist since her high school years in the Philippines until the early part of 2019 at St. Paul’s Catholic Church. She is actively involved in the Church Cleaning ministry, she coordinates the Altar Linen ministry every month and serves as a lector and Eucharistic minister.
Gina’s work is a reminder of the sanctity of human life and the blessing of eternity. “We are all living on borrowed time,” said Gina, “and my prayer is that all people will find happiness only in doing His will.”
Parishes across the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau are filled with everyday saints like Gina. Each of us has a unique vocation to serve God through our everyday work and everyday life. Contact Anna Schulten to recommend a story that should be shared: email@example.com.