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Carrying Christ to the Sick

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by Kary Ellen Berger

As one of the seven sacraments, the Eucharist is a holy encounter central to our spiritual lives. While most Catholics receive this sacrament during the Mass, earthly saints bring the Eucharist from Mass to those who otherwise would not receive it.

Throughout our archdiocese, countless individuals bring the Eucharist to others, including the following four people who give their time and talents to spread this mission.

“A chaplain sacrifices [himself] for the good of those in need.”

The Archdiocese’s Director of Health and Hospital Ministries, Father Ron Combs, administers sacraments to patients at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and Good Samaritan Hospital. After working in parishes for the first 18 years of his priesthood, he feels humbled to be called to hospital ministry.

“In parish ministry, I had a number of people over the years express their belief in my gifts for hospital and nursing home ministry, bereavement and the like,” said Father Combs. “I’m grateful for those gifts with which God has blessed me. I am humbled that people allow me to enter the tender moments of their life. And to be able to offer the Bread of Life—the blessed Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist— is not the work of me, but the work of God.”

“I saw it as another way to serve my St. Luke parish community.”

Keith Hutchison and his wife, Paula, have been members of St. Luke in Beavercreek since 1986; Keith converted to Catholicism in 1999. Throughout the years, he has volunteered in many parish roles, including as a booster member, Parish Council member, an usher and Eucharistic Minister.

“Distributing the blessed Eucharist to the sick and homebound is a great way to serve your parish community,” said Keith. “Taking the blessed Eucharist to the sick and homebound provides a way to share communion, community and conversation [with] those that are not able to attend Mass. They really look forward to the Eucharistic minister’s visits.”

He feels called to this ministry as part of his service to honor the Lord. “Being a Eucharistic Minister is a simple, easy and rewarding way to serve your parish community, be it at Mass or taking communion to the sick and homebound.”

“I see Jesus in the people of Briarwood not just because of their suffering but because of their gifts: goodness, faith, trust, patience, kindness, strength, courage and love.”

A member of Holy Trinity Parish in Coldwater, Roger Kaiser is enrolled in the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary & School of Theology and was previously in the Lay Ministry Program. The diaconate program requires participants to assist—and later create—a ministry within the community. Kaiser assisted with bringing the Eucharist to residents of Briarwood Village Nursing Home, then organized dozens of volunteers to bring the Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion to the nursing home residents.

“I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit guided this ministry and the people who volunteered, given the long list of people who helped to create this ministry,” said Kaiser. “The people in this area have good hearts, are very giving, and the response to the call was just overwhelming. Many people assist in bringing Jesus’ Word and Body to Briarwood’s residents and I truly feel privileged to be a part of it.”

Kaiser added, “Bringing the Eucharist and His Word to the residents of Briarwood and getting to know them is very rewarding. I believe that there is no greater call, no greater work, no greater duty, no greater opportunity, no greater privilege than to reach out to the people who have no other way of receiving the Eucharist, to carry our Lord’s Body to them and offer Him to them, to His whole Church.”

“Our desire to bring the Eucharist to those who cannot attend Mass is an extension of our ministry.”

Parishioners of Holy Angels in Dayton, Clare Thielen, her husband, George, and their three daughters, Natalie, Rachel and Sarah, don’t hesitate to show their devotion to the faith. The family is involved with many ministries at Holy Angels, including as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion; an extra special mission for the Thielens because Clare and George are able to support their mothers through this ministry.

“There have been times the past few years where our mothers could not attend Mass for health reasons,” said Clare. “We wanted to bring them the Eucharist and to pray with them so they could remain connected to this important gift of our faith. This started prior to COVID, but during COVID when our churches were closed, it was very difficult to be away from each other and the Eucharist. This reinforced for us how important it is to bring Communion to those not able to attend Mass.”

The Thielens see this ministry as a privilege—one they deeply respect. “This ministry is a true blessing,” said Clare. “We are in the home of someone who is missing Mass due to health reasons, and [we] understand how much they would like to be at Mass in person. They are so appreciative of our ministry. and my husband and I have discussed feeling Christ’s presence when praying and reflecting both before and after someone receives the Eucharist.”

This article appeared in the February 2023 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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