Former St. Agnes bereavement center celebrates 25 years of healing

The name and owner may have changed, but the mission of the St. Agnes Hospice Center for Bereavement Care remains strong 25 years into its journey of helping those mourning the loss of loved ones.

Sold by St. Agnes Healthcare a year ago, the center is now owned by Professional Health Care Resources, but continues the spiritual healing that has helped hundreds of people through the years.

Many of those who have found healing through group services provided by the center came together Dec. 13 for a 25th anniversary celebration at Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville.

“Our celebration was a great success,” said Fred Schneider, coordinator of bereavement services.

Mr. Schneider said 60 members of the support groups offered by the now- Professional Healthcare Hospice Bereavement Center came together with volunteers and employees.

Longtime supporter Father Joseph F. Breighner was also at the celebration to share his humor and keen insight into the healing process.

“He was a favorite retreat master of ours over the years,” Mr. Schneider said. “He really keyed on issues of grief and loss.”

The center has two successful groups from its St. Agnes lineage. Bereavement Outreach Network (BON) is a group that meets two hours a week for six consecutive weeks.

Bridges is a monthly meeting for those who wish to continue their healing.

Professional Healthcare Resources founder Eileen DeCesare said, “It is wonderful that we at Professional Healthcare Resources are able to provide our families with a service that is so healing. Loss is so profound, and I am happy that through our hospice we can help people on this most difficult journey – the journey of grief.”

Mr. Schneider, who attends Mass at the St. Joseph’s Passionist Monastery Church in Irvington, said that even though the center is part of a family-owned business now, there is a strong link to the past.

“We never apologized when we were a Catholic institution,” he said. “We still have a hospice chaplain. The definition of grief is the physical, emotional and spiritual response to loss. It’s a painful healing process that occurs slowly over time.”

The center has grown over the years, gaining numerous staff members and volunteers. When the center started its group meetings, Mr. Schneider said there were just a handful of participants. Now, there are 20 to 30 people monthly who attend the free services.

“The goal is not to keep people coming every month for the rest of your life,” Mr. Schneider said. “People ask when they should stop coming. I always tell them when you have something better to do on a Saturday afternoon.”

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.