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.