Caring for our elders with the compassion of Christ

October 28, 2014

HOUSTON — As people age, spirituality may become an even more important part of their daily lives. As one of the four ministries of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the mission of St. Dominic Village is to “care for our elders with the compassion of Christ.” 

St. Dominic Village offers a robust program of independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care for long-term and short-term rehabilitation residents.

According to Meg Pohodich, director of marketing at St. Dominic Village, retirement and the ability to enjoy a less frantic pace allows many older Catholics to attend daily Mass. 

When it becomes too difficult to get to church, sometimes because they can no longer drive or do not want to be a burden on others, it is an immense loss to not be able to partake in the Sacraments.

“At St. Dominic Village, spiritual enrichment is one of our priorities,” Pohodich said. “Warren Chapel is literally the heart of our campus, centered between The Independent Living, The Assisted Living, and The Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. In the spirit of our rich Catholic tradition, we embrace people from all faiths across all of our different levels of care.”

Warren Chapel offers Mass 17 times per week, a daily Rosary and a weekly non-denominational service, in addition to many other special celebrations and spiritual discussions. 

Also located on the 27-acre campus is the Priest Residence, Pope John XXIII, for retired priests, as well as Angel House, which has 20 respite rooms for patients and family members of patients who are receiving treatment in the Texas Medical Center and need a safe and healing environment during their short-term stay in the area. 

Pohodich said that what makes St. Dominic Village unique in the senior care industry is that it is the only Catholic retirement community in the greater Houston area that offers a true continuum of care for the aging population. 

While there is a long list of independent living, assisted living and long-term care communities to choose from, many of them will only offer one or two of these levels of care. 

“St. Dominic Village offers residents the ability to age in one place throughout their retirement years,” Pohodich said. “As a member of the Texas Medical Center, St. Dominic Village has close relationships with major hospitals, allowing for smooth transitions if a hospital stay or out-patient treatment is necessary.”

Theresa Matranga Sagan is one of St. Dominic Village’s more tenured residents. She moved into The Independent Living in December of 2000. Now 85 years old, she has lived in the same apartment for the last 14 years.

“I love it here,” Matranga said. “I think it is a beautiful place to live, especially with the chapel.”

Matranga spent 22 years in the convent at the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament and taught Latin and religion until she left in 1969. She spent many years working at Exxon Mobil and, in 1977, married Felix H. Sagan at St. Cyril of Alexandria Church and spent 16 wonderful years together until he passed away in 1994.

After he passed, Matranga felt that she no longer needed the two bedroom condo. Since she enjoyed visiting her brother Joe and his wife Lena, who were residents of St. Dominic Village, she made the decision to move there and said she has never regretted that decision. 

Matranga stays very active at St. Dominic Village. 

Since she was involved in the choir at St. Cyril of Alexandria Church, she brought those talents to the choir at St. Dominic Village.
“I’m at the microphone six out of the seven days a week at Mass in Warren Chapel,” she said. “I try to pick hymns that complement the daily Mass readings. I stay so busy here.” 

St. Dominic Village celebrates 40 years in 2015 and has evolved over the years to meet the ever-changing needs of the aging community. Two major projects are currently underway.

“We are partnering with UTHealth to open a clinic on campus, specifically for independent living residents who find it difficult to schedule and get to doctor’s appointments, particularly on short notice or for acute events,” Pohodich said. 

“This clinic will be an extra convenience that will increase the quality of life of our St. Dominic Village family. In addition, we are grateful to the Chancery for spearheading a new Priest Residence, the Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza Priest Residence, which is currently being constructed on our campus and is anticipated to be complete in 2015,” she said.