September 14, 2011

Holy Cross parishioners find mind-body balance through exercise, education

by Staff, Douglas County Health Department

At 91 years old, Holy Cross Catholic Church is feeling pretty spry. That’s thanks to a congregation with a mix of young families and older generations—a blend that keeps this central Omaha parish young at heart.

To promote healthy living among all its parishioners, as well as the community at large, Holy Cross joined Partners for a Healthy Community in early 2011. The parish’s ongoing aerobics program has proven to be a perfect fit with the Partners initiative; the program meets at the parish hall on Tuesday mornings during the school year. Participants range from those in their early 30s to an 88-year-old member.

The aerobics class offers a sense of community that extends beyond Sunday Mass, says office manager Katie Naumowicz. “Some people are intimidated about going to a gym. I think if you’re among your friends from church, you’re more apt to go and continue to go if you feel comfortable.”

Church members—and anyone in the community—also can stay active through Irish dance classes, held Tuesday evenings. This fall, Holy Cross will kick off its third annual Irish Festival with a 5K fun run/walk in the neighborhood.

As another way to help members find a body-soul balance, the parish offers educational sessions on a variety of health topics. Topics, presented by an Alegent Health facilitator, have included aging well in retirement, retraining your brain about portion sizes, and making heart-healthy versions of family recipes. This fall, a session will discuss the health benefits of chocolate—a topic that may be the most popular yet, Naumowicz acknowledges.

The church spreads the word about upcoming events through its Facebook page, website, parish bulletin and pulpit announcements. Each event has enjoyed a healthy turnout with a cross-section of the parish community attending. Perhaps the best barometer of success is one simple question from attendees, says Naumowicz: “They just ask when the next event will be.”

Active Living, Healthy Eating


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