By: Megan Landisch
Spring 2015 Communications Intern
Senior majoring in advertising
For Connie Roybal, faith and wellness go hand in hand. As Connie ages, and is no longer on a daily schedule she is finding that spirituality and God have become a major part of her daily life. Connie has always considered herself both spiritual and religious. She grew up in New Mexico and is from a family who is deeply rooted in their Hispanic culture and Catholicism. Her Grandfather was a “mayordomo”, which in Spanish, means ‘steward’. He essentially was a stand-in priest for the times that the priest could not be there. Her grandfather took care of the church building and could help with some of the Catholic sacraments. Connie fondly remembers his strong sense of spirituality, which was the cornerstone for her family’s sense of spirituality. Connie affectionately remembers her parents as spiritual as well. It was through her family and upbringing, that Connie is able to express her spirituality and religious beliefs so confidently and freely. She recalls quite often her mom “telling us to ‘trust in God’ and that has really became a notion that I hold very close in daily life.”
Connie’s faith and spirituality is an integral part of her identity. She even took a religious oath earlier in her life, but decided that she could better connect with God, others and her spirituality in various ways. She says that her “spirituality has always been a dominant factor in my dealing with any situation or circumstance.” Connie went on to both administer and teach elementary and middle school children. She ended her career teaching theology to middle schoolers and found it the most rewarding part of her teaching career. After she retired from education in her mid-sixties, Connie went back to school to acquire a Master’s Degree in Theology. She found the topic “profoundly interesting and wonderful” and embraced learning more about spirituality, religion and herself every day.
Connie sees herself as both spiritual and religious. She makes an interesting distinction between the two terms. “A spiritual person realizes that the most important part of who they are is the mysterious part that loves and understands concepts and ideas that are not always physical. A religious person seeks to express that understanding (of spirituality) by becoming involved in ritual which includes prayer, whether it be liturgical or personal. Religion cannot exist without spirituality. It would be empty and unfulfilling.” Connie then adds that “religion comes from the Latin word ‘religare’ which means to re-connect. It is our attempt to reconnect ourselves with our spirituality and/or God.” Knowing herself, her God, and her spirituality helps give her life meaning. “Believing and trusting this knowledge gives special meaning to her relationships with others,” she says “I care and love my friends and family better with this understanding of myself [and my faith] than I could without it.” Loosing independence is something that gives Connie fear as she ages, but she reminds herself “Hay, esta Dios” which is Spanish for “God is always there”.
As she ages, her faith has changed. Connie is now content with letting God be in charge of things that are out of her control. She still has trouble with accepting the things she cannot change sometimes, but her faith has served as an anchor for many challenges she has faced. Science and research also support Connie’s idea that her spirituality and religion contributes to her wellness. Spirituality is a component of the six dimensions of wellness for all people, but can be especially constructive for aging adults as they begin to face different life challenges that they have not experienced yet.