The Rev. John Manno, the priest at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Montoursville, was awarded the Dr. Alexander Nesbitt Commitment to Caring Award for his desire to help improve the lives of others. He was surprised with the award on Tuesday afternoon during the End of Life Choices seminar at the Steinbacher, Goodall and Yurchak's Elder and Special Needs Resource Center, 401 Washington Blvd.
"All who know (Manno) would say that he has a 'passion for the needs of the community,' " said attorney Julieanne Steinbacher. She said he has worked with the United Churches of Lycoming County, the Lycoming Neighborhood Development Corp. and Project Bald Eagle.
"Manno reflects a commitment to caring," said Nesbitt, a physician at Susquehanna Health working in palliative care and hospice. "He looks to serve in all that he does."
Manno said he was very thankful for the award and gave his gratitude to Nesbitt and the law firm.
Nesbitt and Manno spoke from two viewpoints on the subject of end of life choices - medical and spiritual.
From Nesbitt's experience as a physician, he said if you become seriously ill or enter a permanent state of unconsciousness and you cannot speak for yourself, it is essential to have somebody appointed by you as a representative.
A representative would be a person who knows what you want in terms of receiving a feeding tube or being put on a ventilator, he said. They need to be able to make "life or death" choices, he said.
A good representative is somebody who is strong enough to make tough choices, comprehend the information from the doctors and understands the person's wishes, he said.
"The most important thing is communication," Nesbitt said. "Talk with your surrogate decisionmaker about what you would want so they can make better decisions."
Appointing this person and also having a living will are essential if someone is unable to make major decisions for themselves, he said.
A living will explains what a person's wishes are in regards to life or death decisions, he said. For example, whether to put somebody on a ventilator.
"It is not about the specifics, it is about what level of living is OK, and that is different for each person," he said.
Manno said that when a representative has to make heavy decisions for somebody, they can sometimes feel guilty about it.
"Never bust on yourself in the past with the wisdom you have in the future," he said. "You did the best you could."
When somebody you know is dying, Manno said that the best thing to do is to be present. Then when that person dies, he said it is OK to mourn and cry about it.
He said all people participate in death, it is doable because millions of people have done it.
For more end-of-life information, call the law firm at 570-322-2077.