Fr. Amal and Keavan eagerly await Keavan’s performance during the Christmas Program.
For those who are living in care homes, having a sense of community and belonging is important for their overall well-being. It is not just about meeting their physical needs, but also about attending to their emotional and spiritual needs. This is where the role of a Spiritual Animator becomes crucial in care homes.
Fr. Amal Rayapillai, SdC, the Spiritual Animator for St. Louis Center. Amalorpavanathan Rayapillai (pronounced “Rye – ya – pull – lay”) was born the youngest of eight siblings in Tamilnadu, the southern part of India. Amalorpavanathan (shortened to Amal) means “Immaculate” in Tamil, his native language, and he knew from a young age that he wanted to be a priest. He entered the Guanellian seminary after completing 10th grade, and, after ordination in 2013, Fr. Amal was sent for further studies in Rome. When his studies in Italy were completed he was assigned in 2016 to St. Louis Center in Chelsea, Michigan, USA, where he and other new priests were mentored by Fr. Joseph Rinaldo and Fr. Enzo Addari to provide future leadership at the Center. In preparation for these duties, Fr. Amal completed a graduate degree in Education at Madonna University in 2020.
Fr. Amal’s role at St. Louis Center, as defined by the founder, St. Louis Guanella, is to be the ‘pastor of the center’ and to animate mass, prepare residents for mass, participate and animate prayer in the units, offer catechesis, and prepare residents for possible sacramental life. Fr. Amal also animates the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross on Tuesdays and Fridays for the residents. By collaborating with the activity coordinator, he engages the residents with activities according to the liturgical season, bible stories, and traditional events. This helps to create a sense of community and belonging among the residents.
In addition to his responsibilities towards the residents, Fr. Amal also trains the staff with the Guanellian values. He underlines why it is special working at St. Louis Center and how they should love and care for the residents at their homes. By doing so, he not only ensures that the residents are taken care of but also creates a positive work environment for the staff.
Fr. Amal is also in charge of vocation promotion and animates the Boys’ retreat every second Saturday of the month. This provides an opportunity for youth from around to join in praying, playing, and strengthening their faith in sharing. He also organizes meetings with the Guanellian co-operators in the local area, sharing and enriching them with Guanellian spirituality and the life of St. Louis Guanella.
In conclusion, Fr. Amal’s role as a Spiritual Animator is not just about conducting religious services. It is about creating a sense of community, belonging, and providing emotional and spiritual support to the residents. His efforts go a long way in creating a positive and healthy environment for the residents and staff alike. Spiritual animation in care homes is an essential component that should not be overlooked, as it plays a crucial role in the overall well-being of the residents.
This post is on page 20 of St. Louis Center’s 2022 Annual Report.
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