Wisdom from our Centenarians - St. Augustine Health Ministries

The wisdom that makes us recognize the value of the elderly person and that brings us to honour them, is the same wisdom that allows us to appreciate the numerous gifts that we receive every day from the providential hand of the Father, and to be happy. (Pope Francis)

For Immediate Release
July 2017 

(Cleveland) Living to 100 years old is a feat difficult to imagine. Even our 100-year-olds at St. Augustine Health Campus agree! June marked a big month for three of our residents as they reached the remarkable one-century-old birth date and celebrated with our community. To gain some wisdom from our centenarians about life over the past 100 years, we interviewed Jeanine (100), Rose (100) and our oldest resident Mary (101).

Rose came to Ohio in 1939 and spent time working in a variety of jobs from factory work, assembly work and working in bakeries. Her husband was an immigrant from Italy and a skilled carpenter. “If my faith wasn’t as strong as it is today, I don’t think I could have made it this far in life. Faith in God is what pulled me through,” Rose shared, “Bad and good points. You can’t have the good without some bad points. There is nothing perfect. It is better because after you’re over the hump, you appreciate what you’ve got.”

Faith played a big role in Mary’s life as well, “My faith was it. It was my reason for living.” During the war, Mary worked at the Parker Appliance factory where she met her husband, “He was free [from the draft] because he was one of the first ones examined and he was too skinny. He was lucky, so I grabbed him. He had three sisters and a bossy mother, so he was perfect. He knew how to handle women.” As for Mary’s experience during the war, “Well, it was busy. Go to work, hope for the best. Hope for the guys in the service.”

Jeanine’s experience during World War II was much different than Mary’s. Born in Belgium, Jeanine met an American soldier who was stationed in her village during the war, fell in love and married him soon after. They didn’t have a wedding celebration because there was nothing during the war, “People [can’t] imagine, you know, how the war [was]. I hope I never see a war anymore. We had to run [to] the basement. The bombs were all over. You were trying to eat, the siren broke, we had to run… For a long time after my husband brought me over I used to run [to] the basement.”

For these women, the mottos they lived by shaped their life experiences. After asking for some parting advice, Rose shared her strong belief in the power of being a good person, “Be good to everybody. It doesn’t hurt to be good. What is life all about if you’re not a decent person? It makes your life easier.”    

Mary learned most from her mother and role model, who was firm and determined, “Just do the best you can and watch results. Don’t worry about what other people think.” Mary took joy in music and the arts and after asking for advice on the dance floor she assured that dancing is simply “whatever your body feels like doing, put to music.”

Jeanine, fluent in four languages at one point in her life, advised to learn more languages in order to travel, “It is good to go to other countries. When you come back, you can see how good [your country] actually is.” In a relationship and in all life encounters, she believes that being honest is the key to success. “Don’t lie,” she says, “it is the worst thing a person can do.” Lastly, one of the most tangible pieces of advice she gave was that when cooking, “Never cook your food fast. The only thing is to take your time.”

At St. Augustine Health Ministries, we take pride in working with a community of diverse residents. Here we have the opportunity to bear witness to each individual’s unique life journey, broadening our worldview and showing us the value each person brings to the world. Here we do our best to walk in the shoes of seniors who have already walked in ours.



St. Augustine Health Ministries is a faith-based, non-profit provider of residential and community based services. Services include: rehabilitation & skilled nursing, home health care, assisted living, independent living, long-term care, hospice care, home delivered and congregate meals and an early learning child care center.  To learn more about St. Augustine Health Ministries, visit our website at www.staugministries.org or contact Dana Carns, Director of Advancement at (216) 939-7602.