Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Residents of Largo retirement community celebrate Easter, Passover without having to travel

They are different people with different faiths, but they share a commonality. Each is celebrating their religion's holiest of seasons, Easter and Passover, together, at Pinecrest Place.

Barbara Reilly, a lifelong Roman Catholic, pushed her walker from her apartment at the retirement community to the lobby of Pinecrest Place, which sits next to the Pinellas Trail on Eighth Avenue SW.

The 88-year-old wanted to receive communion and celebrate Palm Sunday, but she did not feel strong enough to travel to a church for Mass.

Tom McAvoy, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion from St. Patrick Catholic Church, greeted her in the doorway. He visits Pinecrest Place at least once a week to bring the Sacrament of the Eucharist to those unable to travel.

When Reilly was ready, he served her Communion and prayed with her. After a few moments, he helped her to her feet and presented her with a palm.

On Monday, Rebecca and Abraham Bodenstein, who moved from Dunedin two weeks ago, attended a Seder with 12 other residents in the northwest corner of Pinecrest's formal dining room.

Pete Kristall, a volunteer whose wife, Marge Kristall, is the business office manager at Pinecrest, led the Passover celebration. The occasion was the first time the Bodensteins gathered with other Jewish residents.

There are 450 people who call Pinecrest Place home. Two residential towers include apartments for both independent living as well as assisted living.

"I call the residents at Pinecrest the old guard,'' said McAvoy, 82. "They are of the generation that truly keeps their religion in the forefront of their daily life and when I see them come down from their rooms to receive Communion as dressed up as if they were attending a church, I myself am inspired.''

The management also recognizes that so many of the residents consider their faith top priority, according to Diana Baldwin, program manager. "Sometimes religion is even more important to a person as they age,'' Baldwin said. "A main goal is to make sure residents know that when they come to Pinecrest, they'll continue to grow and learn in life. In other words, we want their story to continue here.''

Resident Alice Smith helps direct a Thursday Bible study group. She believes simply being with so many people of different faiths is a learning opportunity, and although it is important to remember the unwritten rule to respect an individual's religion and politics, Smith appreciates seeing some residents pray before their meals.

"I don't see prayer always, but I do appreciate it when I do see it,'' said Smith, 84. "And I see having different faiths together as a good thing because we can learn even more about religion from each other.''

To help the Jewish residents celebrate Passover, Baldwin has come to rely on the Kristalls, who have held the Seder at Pinecrest Place on the first night of Passover for the past seven years.

Pete Kristall's family fled Nazi Germany when he was a newborn. "I learned the Seder from my Uncle Leo. I grew up in his house in Buffalo, N.Y.,'' said Kristall, 70.

With his self-written Haggadah (a guide to the Seder) in hand, Kristall directed the ceremonial meal. James Puchel, head of dining services for Pinecrest Place, followed his lead. After each blessing, he served the courses — the gefilte fish, the matzo, beef brisket, vegetables, fruit and strawberry sponge cake for desert.

The Seder inspired Rebecca Bodenstein, 87, to continue to meet others at Pinecrest who are active in Judaism. "I appreciated the efforts they made with holding a Seder,'' said Bodenstein. "And you know what the dinner did for me? It's got me thinking about getting involved in helping with next year's.''

Fast facts

About Pinecrest

Pinecrest Place, 1150 Eighth Ave. SW, is a retirement community with 450 residents. It has apartments for both those who live independently as well as for those who need assistance.

Residents of Largo retirement community celebrate Easter, Passover without having to travel 04/03/10 [Last modified: Saturday, April 3, 2010 12:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Young male hospitalized after shooting in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — A juvenile male was injured Monday morning in a shooting at 2336 17th Ave S, police said.

  2. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  3. How Hollywood is giving its biggest stars digital facelifts


    LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp is 53 years old but he doesn't look a day over 26 in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie — at least for a few moments. There was no plastic surgeon involved, heavy makeup or archival footage used to take the actor back to his boyish "Cry Baby" face, however. It's all …

    This combination of photos released by Disney, shows the character Jack Sparrow at two stages of his life in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."  Johnny Depp, who portrays the character, is the latest mega-star to get the drastic de-aging treatment on screen
[Disney via Associated Press]
  4. Putin visits France, hopes to mend strained ties with West


    VERSAILLES, France — On a visit likely to shape Russia-France ties for years, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sumptuous Palace of Versailles on Monday for what the newly-elected French leader said would be "demanding" talks on Syria, the Ukrainian crisis and other …

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, France, Monday. Monday's meeting comes in the wake of the Group of Seven's summit over the weekend where relations with Russia were part of the agenda, making Macron the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the talks. [AP photo]
  5. Five cool things to do when it's hot outside


    Summer is not officially here, but it may as well be. School is out, vacations are coming, and it's time to enjoy the outdoors. Don't buy the argument that summer in Florida is too hot to get outside. There is plenty to do, and we'll prove it. Here are five cool things to do outdoors during another hot summer.

    Rainbow Springs State Park is a registered natural landmark. Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon is one several state parks with natural swimming holes in Florida. (Octavio Jones | Times)