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MIDDLEBOROUGH -- “When I was 60, I cried because I was no longer young. Now that I am 82, I laugh because I am no longer old,” declared Shirley Bramante, parishioner at Sacred Heart parish in Middleborough.
At 82, Bramante finds herself beginning many new ventures in her parish.
A retired nurse, she began helping as a parish nurse in 2005, helping monitor parishioners’ blood pressures and cholesterol levels in their health ministry.
However, Bramante says she began to feel the Holy Spirit was calling her to help others, not just those who were able to attend the health ministry. So, she became a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in order to provide home visits to people who may have health needs in her town.
“This way I can look at any health needs, as well as physical or spiritual needs, that they may have,” she explained.
Bramante also joked that she “sprouted wings this past September,” noting that she is a group leader of the Women in God’s Spirit (WINGS) group, a group for women of all ages who seek to grow in their relationship with God and deepen their faith.
But perhaps closest to her heart is a 6-week bereavement support program she has recently started with the help of another parishioner who is also a nurse-practitioner.
“Oh, it was so good to see where the people were on the sixth week as opposed to the first week,” she said. “I think this is going to be a very viable group.”
Bramante praised her pastor, Father Richard Crowley, for his ability to shepherd his parishioners.
‘‘He is a sweetheart,” she said. “Father Richard is so gentle and so kind, he never gets upset or angry. I think he is very devoted to his parishioners.”
“I just love my Sacred Heart Church,” she added emphatically. “And I am eager to use my abilities at the service of my parish family.”
Bramante herself is no stranger to heartache. She has been widowed three times -- once after only 10 weeks of marriage. Bramante credits her faith with helping her to cope with the heartache.
“God gave me a wonderful gift in each of my husbands,” she said, noting that her experiences in suffering loss help her when speaking with others who have recently lost a loved one.
“The Lord has really blessed me in every aspect of my life,” she mused. “There are seven fruits of the Holy Spirit and I have been blessed by all of them.”
Bramante became Catholic 57 years ago, when she was engaged to her first husband.
“I had no intention of turning Catholic when I got engaged to a Catholic young man,” she said. “I was very happy in the faith I had.”
Things changed, and she began to feel called into the church, she continued.
“Then suddenly, on April Fool’s Day, I found myself being baptised,” she said with a smile. “I had no idea how I got there!”
According to Bramante, living her faith is something she feels she does every day.
“I find great joy living in the shadow of the Holy Spirit,” she said. “I feel very secure. I feel at peace. I feel love -- and I feel love because I am so loved.”
Sacred Heart Parish, Middleborough
Established -- 1881
Pastor -- Father Richard P. Crowley
Parochial Vicar -- Father Robert J. Congdon
Senior Priest in residence -- Father Daniel J. Crowley
Assisting priest -- Father William Palardy
Permanent Deacons -- Charles H. Bower, George M. Gabriel
Pastoral Associate -- Patricia Mikus
The Sacred Heart Parish of Middleborough includes St. Rose of Lima in Rochester and we are clustered with St. Martha & Mary, in Lakeville. The cluster seeks to provide united efforts in meeting the needs of the wider community.