The annual holiday Wings of Healing ceremony at St. Catherine Hospital offered hope to many on Tuesday while giving them an opportunity to give back to the community. The St. Catherine Hospital Auxiliary hosted its 24thannual Wings of Healing tree lighting program in the hospital’s chapel – a program that is inspirational both to the community and healthcare providers alike.
All purchases of angel ornaments to be hung on the Wings of Healing Tree in honor of loved ones went toward the Auxiliary’s annual scholarship program, which provides educational assistance to area students who are pursuing careers in healthcare.
“Hanging an angel on this tree is very special. I lost my dad three years ago, and it still touches my heart to do so,” said Teresa Pedroza, Director of Mission Integration and Volunteers at St. Catherine Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center. “I love that we can honor those individuals who have made such a significant impact on our lives while also helping the Auxiliary’s scholarship program.”
Many in the audience believe that St. Catherine Hospital and the Wings of Healing ceremony have positively impacted their lives as well. Sandy Marcinek, attendee for 15 years, was introduced to the Wings of Healing tree lighting in 2004.
“My son had passed away and somebody purchased an angel for me as a gift. Since then, I’ve participated every year,” Marcinek said. “A year and a half ago, my husband passed away. So now, I hang two angels on the tree in their memory.”
Tom Guiden has been honoring and celebrating his mother’s life at the ceremony for 10 years.
“My mother used to say the Rosary twice a day, and one day, she told me that she never said it for herself. She was always praying for others,” Guiden said. “And now, I do this for her.”
The gift of an angel honors those who have passed, may be ill, or who are facing challenges in their life. Honorary angels can also be hung to celebrate a victory or commemorate an important moment in a person’s life.
“I love coming here. There’s always hugs, smiles, and happiness,” Guiden said. “Although it’s solemn, everybody leaves with a smile and feels uplifted.”
For a $25 donation, a keepsake angel ornament can also be mailed or presented to an honoree. Guiden sends one to his sister in Florida every year. The two then hang the angels on the tree together when they reunite at Christmas.
Pedroza said the Wings of Healing program is a great way to honor a loved one over the holiday season.
“I feel it also honors the feelings of those who may be experiencing grief during the holidays,” she said. “It meant so much to me when I was gifted with a beautiful angel in memory of my father.”
As honoree's names were read aloud and angel ornaments were placed on the tree with care, a sense of hope and togetherness filled the chapel.
As the ceremony closed, attendees sang “Joy to The World,” and enjoyed appetizers, refreshments and each other’s company across the hall.
As a result of the Wings of Healing program, more than $110,000 in educational funding has been awarded to area residents through the scholarship program over the years.
To learn more about the program or to purchase an angel ornament, call 219-392-7009. To download a donation form, visit http://www.comhs.org/ways_to_give/pdf/Wings_of_Healing.pdf.