Outreach to homebound is her niche

By | September 19, 2012

Her other grandmother, she said, was difficult to handle, “but she always listened to me. I don’t know why.”


Audrey Klamrowski (Dick Meyer | For The Compass)

After that grandmother moved into the upstairs of Klamrowski’s home, Klamrowski spent nights with her “to keep her settled down a little bit. It’s just been embedded in me, the elderly. They’ve always been my primary interest, concern and love.”

When Klamrowski was an adult, her mother died, and Klamrowski moved to Oshkosh to work as a nurse at Winnebago Mental Health Institute.

“I worked in psychiatry all of my career, except for the last 10 years when I worked at the prison in Oshkosh as a clinical nurse — and that’s a little bit of psychiatry, too,” she said.

“At the prison, I took care of the old folks, too,” she said. “Then, Oshkosh was the only prison in the state that was all on one floor. So we got amputees, people in wheelchairs, people who couldn’t bend over to cut their toenails. I’m a nurse, so I would cut toenails. The word got around and then I’ve got all these old guys lining up. I didn’t go out looking for them.”

When she moved to Oshkosh, her father came with her. For 11 years she cared for him and provided a home for him until his death.

Your Catholic Neighbor

Name: Audrey Klamrowski

Parish: St. Mark, Redgranite

Age: 77

Favorite saint: Blessed Mother

Words to live by: “I see Jesus in every human being.” — Mother Teresa

So it was natural for her to take training at her church, the former St. John Parish, in visiting home-bound parishioners in their homes, hospitals or nursing homes.

“What I love best about my faith is being able to visit the sick,” she said. “I like taking care of them. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to be doing it. If the person happens to be ill and not elderly, I get the same satisfaction. But the biggest share of our people who are not able to get to church are the elderly.”

After Klamrowski retired in 1995, she moved to a mobile home in Wild Rose, and St. Mark has become her permanent parish. She continues her visits to homebound parishioners in Waushara County.

“I visit with anybody who cannot come to church for any reason at all,” she said. “Most of the more permanent homebound are elderly. With elderly comes illness, so most of them are sick and elderly. Many are not mobile at all. We sit and visit and talk for a while. Whatever they want to talk about. I listen and try not to be judgmental.”

She also brings them Communion.

She said the homebound she visits are very grateful and like to have her as a regular visitor.

“I’ve had nobody yet say, ‘Don’t come back,'” she said. “I have so many names on a list, and I have tried to ask them if I can have somebody else come. But they say, ‘I would just as soon you keep on coming,'” she said. “I get to each of them as often as I can. I can feel lousy myself and visit one or two homes, and I feel entirely differently. They do as much for me as I do for them.”

Klamrowski feels passionately that service to the church is what every member of the laity should be doing. “In this day and age, we look at our priest numbers, and they are dramatically down right now. There are so many things the laity could do and should do.”

Klamrowski and parish director Karen Nesbit have a prayer service with Communion each Wednesday at an assisted living facility with about 21 Catholic residents. They use many volunteers as lectors and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion. She hopes services like this will lead to further service in the church and its outreach programs.

When some of her home-bound parishioners say, “I’m so useless,” she responds, “Do you pray? You can remember all of us who are working out in the parish because we all need prayers.”

Klamrowski has helped with religious instruction for adults for four years, just finished four years as a trustee and jumps in whenever she sees something that needs to be done.

“Even before Mass, if I see someone sitting alone in a pew, I go up and greet them and ask how they are doing,” she said. “I talk to God and say, ‘If you want me to accomplish all you need from me today, you’re going to have to give me more than 24 hours.'”

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