Every weekend parishioners gather at the Lord’s table at their parishes to receive the Body of Christ. While this is the way many receive Communion, a good number of people — and the number seems to be growing — are no longer able to leave their homes to attend parish liturgies as they once did.
They rely on clergy and other volunteers to bring them the Eucharist.
In Benton, Christopher and Sesser, Sister Laura Reynolds OSF has taken on the role of Pastoral Visitor to bring the Eucharist to the home bound with five volunteers from St. Joseph Parish in Benton. Together they bring Communion to 40 people in the area. Each person receives at least one visit a month.
Jim Chady visits someone every two weeks and Pattie Richard visits people once a week. Debbie Clark takes Communion to her mother.
To keep track of the people and the visits, Sister Laura applied for a grant from The Catholic Service and Ministry Appeal Fund for Ministry.
People from each of the five vicariates are awarded grants, depending on how much they need and how they will use the money. Sister Laura asked for $400 to buy a tablet and software to track data and mileage to visit the home bound.
She received the entire amount she requested.
Of the people who are visited, some remain in their own homes, some are in senior or skilled care and some are in hospitals. Mary Mayeski, 95, continues to live in her own home but can no longer go to St. Joseph every weekend for the liturgy.
Mary continues to feel a part of the parish because she receives visits from Sister Laura and other volunteers. That, according to volunteer Pattie Richard, is one of the goals of the program.
“We want to keep people not able to come to church to feel they are still a part of the church community,” she said. Mary said the visits are “very important to me. “I’ve been going to St. Joseph’s for 64 years, and now I can’t go.”After Sister Laura prays with Mary and gives her Communion, she asks her “for whom should we pray?”
Mary asks for prayers for various people, among them Sister Laura so she can continue to minister to her and the other people no longer able to go to church.
Richard said being a nurse makes this special for her.
“I love it,” she said. “I’m a nurse and this is spiritual care. As I’m getting older, it could be me next time.”
The CSMA Fund for Ministry offers people who minister outside the 14 diocesan agencies who receive the bulk of the appeal dollars to apply for specific projects.
Other programs and projects request funding, and while they might receive a portion of their request, they may not receive the entire amount.
Also in the South Vicariate, Emma Tuthill requested $3,000 to expand the parish religious education program and programs that minister to youth at St. John the Baptist in West Frankfort and St. Aloysius in Royalton.
Some projects requested money for books, for transportation, for speakers, for equipment and other items.
The East Vicariate submitted five proposals for funding, the Metro-East, five proposals, the North Central, three, the South four and the West, three.
A total of $15,663 was dispersed in the diocese for specific projects or programs.