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Care Center residents see need for Space for Grace


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Hoping to raise money toward a chapel for Northern Montana Care Center, the Greater Havre Area Ministerial Association will hold a Space for Grace fundraiser luncheon and auction on Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For Mary Meland, a resident at the care center, having a dedicated chapel is something she has hoped for over a long time.

"When my husband was here eight years ago, they had a divider in the Ponderosa Dining room," Meland said."It was very difficult to move out and was done away with." To the residents, their families and their friends, a dedicated chapel would mean more than simply having somewhere to hold services without having to rearrange furniture first. It would be somewhere that they could go to feel at peace, according to Ila McClenahan, the chaplain and activities coordinator at the care center.

"This has been a dream of ours since we moved here nine years a g o , " s a i d McClenahan.

The hope for fulfillment of this dream runs deep among care center residents.

"We've all been r a i s e d i n a c h u r c h , " s a i d Dagny Carlson, a care center resident.

"It gives a different feeling to be in a church a t m o s p h e r e instead of a cafeteria.

Although you can worship God anyplace, it would be so nice to have a designated place." Mildred Doney, another care center resident, has fellow residents and their families' needs at heart with this project.

"Families have nowhere to go right now. We need a separate area to worship 24/7," said Doney. "That's why this is so important." The majority of residents are the children of the homesteaders, the families who came and settled the land.

"When they got here; the first thing they did was build a house to live in, then they built a barn for the anim a l s , " s a i d McClenahan. "The third thing they did, often at great s a c r i f i c e, wa s gather together and build a church." With the care center holding approximately 20 to 25 services a month, and some days two services a day, the need for a separate area is apparent.

"It's a lot of work to move the tables and set everything up for the service" said Doney. "Then when the service is over, everything has to be put back for mealtime." The new chapel, to be built by Northern Montana Healthcare's building and grounds crew, will be worked in with the current architecture and will open up the three hospice rooms into one larger area.

"The chapel will have an outside entrance and a view of the mountains normally," said McClenahan, while gesturing toward the cloud-covered Bear's Paw Mountains. "Some residents are 95 years old when they come here; their friends have passed before them. We would like to have the space for memorial services and funerals here with the friends they have made as residents." Sunday's luncheon is one in a series of fundraisers by the Greater Havre Ministerial Association as the fundraising for the chapel heads into the home stretch, according to Timothy Maroney, pastoral administrator at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church.

The non-denominational project has been assisted by churches from across the region.

"Many area churches participate in services with the residents at the care center," said Maroney. "Havre has the people who are willing to give and reach out to each other. It's really cool." The freewill-offering lunch will include spaghetti with meat sauce, French bread with garlic butter, salad and cake for dessert with a choice of coffee, juice and water for a beverage.

A silent auction will follow the meal.

If anyone has items they would like to donate to the silent auction, they are encouraged to call Mary McLain at (406) 265-5614.


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