SOAR! ensures the safety, care and dignity of aging Catholic Sisters, Brothers and Priests. Grant awards help congregations meet the practical, immediate needs of elderly and retired religious, such as accessibility renovations and assistive devices.
Sister Eileen Houlihan, a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Monroe, Michigan, is now 94 years old, and after years of teaching music and singing in church, her hearing has suffered.
With new assistive listening devices from SOAR!, "it's almost the difference between day and night," she said.
Teaching music is one of Sister Eileen's happiest memories from her life in ministry.
"I think the gift of music is such a special gift and such a wonderful language. I'm so grateful," she said.
"Even though I'm not a professional musician, I'm so glad that God has used me to make so many people happy."
As she aged, Sister Eileen began to notice she was having trouble hearing. After she retired to the Mother House in Monroe at the age of 80, she realized she could barely hear Mass in the chapel.
In an open space like the community room, "I could not hear a word," she said, "even with the microphones on and even with my hearing aid on."
Over the past few months, the Sisters have used the new assistive listening devices to participate in prayer gatherings, retreats, conferences and more.
"These assistive devices have helped me become so much more involved than I was before," Sister Eileen said. "I can sit here and almost not know what's going on at all, but with these assisted hearing devices, I can tell you, I can hear every single thing. It is absolutely remarkable."
"It was awful not to be able to hear, but now that's over with," she said.