Problem With Parish Communion for Homebound

I moved just over 6 months ago. My last parish had well-organized Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (all Legion of Mary members), that brought the Eucharist at least weekly, if not more frequently, to those who requested it. Though the EMofHC’s were great, the pastor was neglectful at regularly seeing the homebound. That pastor was transferred just prior to my move, and now the priests do monthly visits. When there, I received communion nearly daily, as I was a daily Mass attendee before chronic pain and disability made it hard to attend Mass. Many of the EMofHC attended Mass daily, and since I lived right in town, they simply stopped with communion after Mass. I would have actually liked going to church; but the parish had a steep. curved, non ADA-compliant ramp that was originally slated for replacement as part of a parish fund to upgrade and repair a seriously deteriorating old church building. Sadly, the former pastor never replaced it. Many had suggested a platform lift, as the main reason keeping many parishioners with disabilities from attendance at Mass was the unusable ramp.

Where I live now, the parish has two church buildings. The original is within walking distance of my house, I could have taken my mobility scooter there, but one caveat; it is NOT handicapped accessible. The new church building, just outside this small city, is handicapped accessible, it was built recently and dedicated in 2006. The problem is that I have NO transportation to it. Para-transit service does not run on Saturdays after Noon, and not at all on Sunday. My para-transit approval allows me to use the New Freedom buses for the elderly, or half-price cab fare. That would be anywhere from $10 to $30 round trip. So much for pinning my hopes on being able to actually attend Mass. I made my last payment on a debt consolidation loan, so I might be able to attempt to use the New Freedom buses a few times a month, weather and health permitting. I have been having procedures done at a pain and spine clinic to hopefully improve my quality of life and reduce my need for various meds to control pain. I also currently cannot get out of the house where my apartment is, because I have yet to have the ramp installed, though that is currently being worked on, and will hopefully resolved soon.

So I am at the mercy of the parish’s Visitors of Christ, the ministry of volunteers to bring HC to the sic; and homebound. My experience with this ministry, is that it is woefully inept and poorly run. I frankly am tired of feeling like a second class citizen who is an afterthought in my new parish. So, what exactly is the church’s policy regarding providing sacraments to the homebound? I would assume it is the responsibility of the pastor, but is he expected to follow any guidelines as to frequency; and what are those guidelines, and where do I find them? My endless frustration with the lack of accessibility is why my religion is list as above. While the rich man dines at the table, I’m the poor person underneath left with the crumbs.

Let me tell you what has transpired with this Visitors of Christ. I have been dealing directly with the woman who runs it, and she is the one who comes to my residence, when I can get her to, that is. After I registered in the parish by phone, and asked about the church down the street and accessibility (then learned there’s no ramps or lifts), I asked about someone bringing me HC. I was told that my information would be passed on to VoC, and someone would contact me. The coordinator contacted me, scheduled a visit, came once, and then never returned, never called, never did anything. On that visit, I specifically requested a visit from a priest. No priest called or came. Weeks went by, phone calls were not returned, contact not made. I finally called the parish office and complained bitterly to the administrator. She said she would call VoC. A few days later, the coordinator called, wanting to schedule an Ash Wednesday visit, and bring ashes as well as HC. The VoC schedules the visits from the priests, I told her I had requested a visit from a priest months ago and when when I called the office.

The assistant pastor did call me for a visit, he came Ash Wednesday and brought the sacraments so I was also able to receive Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick as well. I told him about the VoC, and my problems. I suspected she didn’t return because our first meeting ended up spiraling downward very quickly. My former parish is the parish of a well-known visionary that moved from Arizona and started a mobile medical mission there. At first I believed she was genuine, as I was into Medjugorje and other apparitions. I was part of her inner circle then, it was the prayer cenacle I was in that she became part of. I fell away from her and Med due to what I saw as an incompatibility between the visionaries and their alleged apparitions. The VoC coordinator, recognizing where I moved from, immediately launched into a whole Gianna thing, until I stopped her and said I no longer believed, which led her to inquire why. I told her I was once part of Giana’s inner circle, but my personal experience was that these were false, and I explained my position. This visionary originally came out of Med, and I no longer believed in that either. She follows all these apparitions, I have no interest; we ended up having a heated disagreement. It all went downhill from there. I told the assistant pastor what transpired, he never heard of Gianna or Medjugorje and didn’t care to as they were unapproved. Now Gianna had been shut down by the current and previous bishops and a negative judgement from the current one, a neutral from the previous. This with the approval of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The Church had made it’s judgement regarding Gianna, even if they haven’t regarding Medjugorje. But this person from VoC still believes.

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The following week, I expected a visit from VoC, since Father C said he would talk to her, but no call and no visit. Sooooo, I called the parish office, and relayed the story to the office assistant, as the administrator was out. She was very empathetic and said she would talk to Father C and make some phone calls. Coordinator from VoC called, and she has been coming throughout lent, until this week. She was going to come every other, but I insisted on weekly visits. She wasn’t sure she could come that frequently, but then committed to Friday after lunch hour. No call, no visit for Easter week. I called her number and left a message, she returned it a day later and informed me that she was out of town. I’ve been sitting here depressed for the past few days. It’s Easter and I get no Jesus; how wrong is that? Is she the only one in VoC ministry? She couldn’t arrange for another EMofHC to come in her place?

I watched Mass online Sunday (Passionists at sundaymass.org), and started crying at communion because I am so sick and tired of how I am being treated by my new parish. Father C has been transferred, so I can’t contact him. My mom had suggested contacting the pastor when I previously had problems. She is an EMofHC in my former parish, and is surprised how the VoC runs things, the LoM members cover for each other in my former parish. My mom is retiring from parish ministry and will be moving in a few months herself. LoM got a few new members, and one is training to take over my mom’s communion calls. I frankly am so tired of hearing how important the Mass and the Sacraments are, and how Catholics need to partake of them. If they are so darn important, why isn’t the Church beating down the doors of the homebound to make sure we have access to them.

Why do I have to repeatedly complain to get HC on a weekly basis. I never had this problem in my old parish, the EMofHC from LoM were dedicated to this service. I never had to call and talk to anybody, they set up days and times, and stuck to them. I am so frustrated with this constant miscommunication. I had the first of several procedure during Holy Week, I have more coming up. I don’t need to be stressed out over this, and I shouldn’t be. I could use suggestions, ideas anything. I’m about to write an email to the pastor, what do I say?

I would simply say that I’m disappointed that I’m not receiving Communion more often.

I wonder how many people they have in the ministry? It’s quite possible that they don’t have enough people to do it frequently. In my parish there is only one EMCH who is qualified to do home visits. She’s been trained, had her police check as required by the diocese and, most importantly, she is willing to do home visits, the only EMHC willing to do that. Our pastor does weekly visits but he also has care of a Mission for 3 weeks at a time every couple of months. The EMHC takes over the visits when he’s away.

There are only a few people who are housebound in our parish so it’s not taxing on anyone to do weekly visits. It may not be the same in your parish.

Catholics are required to make confession once a year and receive the Eucharist in Easter time.

Catholics have strict right to receive Sacraments from the Pastor.

I have a guess, that there is no right to weekly home call.

My advise is, to call your pastor, or better write an email to him, but asking, not demanding; and also do not engage in heated conversation about controversial issues.

Sadly I have to say I know of someone who was in that sort of position.

He was an EMHC himself and visited several housebound each week . Each year the Priests in the parish would say that they would do visits to these housebound so they could confess during the Easter season.

Now when X was ill following complications after joint surgery , and** was housebound for two years** the Priests were asked to call several times - they didn’t :frowning: No-one came to bring him Holy Communion despite requests :frowning:

Eventually , hearing of this a young priest from another Parish came over to see him , hear his confession , and then said Mass for X and his wife , and at last they Received Communion.

At last X is no longer housebound - but no longer attends that particular parish

Catholics are required to receive communion once a year during Easter time. They are not required to confess unless they have mortal sins.

The Ministers of Care, E.M.H.C., bring Communion to those unable to attend mass.
They fill a need that the parish priest is unable or unwilling to fufill.
The Ministers of Care provide a necessary duty and are to be applauded for their commitment. They report to a moderator who is in contact with the priest.
Many only want the priest to bring them Communion but it is the priests that decide when and where they go.
There are ten to twenty homebound at my parish.
p.s. It would be better not to argue in spite of your frustrations!

Who is the judge about the gravity of the sin?

It is very frustrating to be housebound and not have the ability to receive frequently. Your sufferings can abound in much grace for you.

You do not have the ‘right’ to weekly communion visits, from a lay EM or from the priest. You must look upon them as a gift. It is very, very sad that your current parish does not have a more organized process though.

Could you possibly act as the coordinator of communion visits to the homebound? You can schedule the visits and keep tabs on the various other people who need them. You could also speak to your pastor about raising money for a ramp or lift at the church close to you. By doing these things, you will be working constructively for the body of Christ in your new town. Also, look into possibly getting a ride to Sunday Mass. That may be easier to come by than a visit from a lay EM.

If you consult the Catechism, you will see guidance as to how to distinguish between mortal and venial sins.

Good questions to ask the pastor, how many are in VoC? And how many homebound do they serve?

The blurb in the parish bulletin is vague. It just says something to the effect of, “Are you sick or homebound? Would you like to receive the sacraments? We have a volunteer ministry, Visitors of Christ, who make short visits to the sick and homebound to bring HC. VoC can also arrange for a priest to visit for Reconciliation and Anointing. Call XXX-XXX-XXXX and ask for XXXXXX.

There are 3 priests and two deacons assigned there, one of the priests and one of the deacons speak Spanish and do ministry for the areas large population of migrant workers.

Well, controversial issues were brought up by VoC’s cooordinator, but Father C said he was going to talk to her about that. I told him that in my previous parish, EMofHC were forbidden to bring up unapproved apparitions to the ones they visited, and refraining from discussing them. I absolutely did not/do not want to discuss them. Father C has since been transferred; if I mention anything to the pastor, it isn’t to argue, but to give him the background, and inform him of my conversation with Father C.

It’s rather sad, that after all the time he had given to bring Jesus to others, no one could/would do the same for him when he was in need. Can’t blame him for no longer attending that parish.

The person who visits me IS the coordinator, and has been for many years. She organized and runs VoC. I hardly doubt I could usurp her, nor would I attempt to. I doubt that the parish would consider a ramp or lift for the original church building down the street, that’s why they built the new one just outside the city limits (It’s a really small city with the feel of a large town). Before the new church was dedicated in 2006, they had more homebound, as the parish’s disabled and many of its elderly, could not get in the main street church. It is a very, very old church; over 170 years old. It may not be feasible to make that building handicapped accessible. The new church has an ADA-compliant ramp at the entrance. Each Sunday, two masses are held in the old church, and 3 in the new. There is Saturday evening Mass at the new church as well, and the last Mass on Sunday is in Spanish. The parish has a large Hispanic/Latino population. The new church, like the old, probably has wood pews for seating. I cannot sit in pews. Therefore I would have to take my mobility scooter, and I doubt I could find a ride that could transport that thing, which is why I’m stuck with New Freedom rides for the elderly bus service. I discussed a lot of this with Father C when he came Ash Wednesday; if he had a solution to get me to church, I’m sure he would have brought it up. I also discussed some of this with the parish office administrator; she had no solutions, other than having VoC come visit

I am very sorry to hear of your situation. I do know how difficult it can be to get to Mass with a dedicated helper when you are disabiled. I often bring my mother to Mass with us. She uses a regular wheelchair and can stand with support, but it is still difficult to get her and her wheelchair in and out of the car, the church, down the aisle to communion, etc.

I will pray for you.

I’m sorry this has happened to you. This is an area where the E.M. could excel and be a big service to the priest/parishioners. It makes me extremely upset that they would treat you in this manner.

The problem that I see is that so many of the EM want to be present and visible on Sunday morning masses and daily masses, but the real need is for the behind the scenes work - the kind of things that don’t get praises from the masses and get you noticed.

Hopefully, this can be resolved and they can find one in your parish that will take this as a thing to do for you.

That’s not a fair comment. Most EMHCs are humble in the service they give to the Church but are not comfortable going to people’s homes. It’s a liability that they are not willing to assume and you can’t say that it’s because it’s not visible. This type of pastoral care takes a certain personality and not all EMHCs are cut out for it.

We have two seperate methods , in my diocese, to be mandated as either a Minister of Care or a E.M.H.C. The first requires six hours of training the latter twelve. They are not interchangeable!
Instead of commenting negatively regarding those that answered the churchs call for ministers, you will attend the training and bring relief to those in need!

I’m sorry if my comment offended you. Some Eucharistic Ministers can and do a good service to the Church. However, in the case of the original poster, she has clearly “fallen through the cracks” to say the least. This service to the Church (providing the Eucharist for the homebound) should be a major priority, in my opinion. There is never a shortage of EM at mass, and should not be a shortage to provide something so important.

I could understand someone not being comfortable to go in someone’s home, but that should not be the person that is selected to be a EM. It also doesn’t explain the countless elderly in nursing homes not having the Eucharist provided to them. The liability at a public facility would be lessened, and yet the elderly also suffer.

I have answered the Church’s call by doing altar linens for 2 parishes for several years, teaching religious education to small children and also being a lector. I declined the offer to be a eucharistic minister. I’m a traditional Catholic in a N.O. parish and am not suited for E.M. (and question heavily my serving as a lector - but due to the shortage of those willing to do that, continue at the present time).

Not everyone should be an E.M.H.C. (they shorten the term to eucharistic minister in my diocese and parish). But, those that are can excel at certain things, such as what the original poster discussed - bringing the Eucharist to someone’s home that is unable to regularly attend mass.

The original poster is someone in need. Hopefully there will be someone that will step up to the plate and help her.

My father faced the same problem, only he is the sole EMHC at his parish who takes Holy Cmmunion to the homebound. The elderly at the senior citizens home across the street from the parish had been requesting that the pastor come and administer the Sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick. He said that he was too busy. Mind you, this is not a huge parish. Subsequently, seven of the residents died without having received the sacraments.

My father wrote a letter to the Pastor, a formal one, concerning the problem. The pastor angrily rebuffed my father and told him that he did not have the time to sit with the people and hold their hands. He said that confessions are heldl 30 minutes before Mass. My father resigned. However, he also wrote a letter to the bishop, certified, return receipt requested. The bishop never responded. My father when wrote to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. It took him a good bit, but the pastor was finally removed and sent elsewhere. We have the CDWDS to thank for fixing the problem at my dad’s parish. My dad has since resumed taking Holy Communion to the sick and homebound.

The new pastor now goes to hear confessions and will, sometimes even celebrate Mass at the senior citizens home.

Just a point of clarification: only the priest and the bishop are Eucharistic Ministers because they alone can confect the Eucharist. Laity who assist with the distribution of Holy Communion are called Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, hence the abbreviation EMHC. EM, in this case, stands for Extraordinary Minisster.

I’m glad your dad took action for the interests of the elderly and community. It sounds like you have a great new pastor. Hopefully the previous pastor will change his ways in his new community. That is heartbreaking that the residents died without receiving the sacraments.

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