I have often remarked that our parish is greatly blessed in that we have so many people actively involved in serving the parish in so many different ways. It is a clear sign of the deep faith of the parish community that we have so many individuals and groups who make a real commitment to helping to proclaim the presence of God in so many ways. For example, where would we be without our catechists and our sacristans, our altar servers and our various groups involved in our music ministry? Again, we have many people involved in serving the needs of the poor in our midst. Indeed, we have much to be grateful for.
Today I would like to reflect on another very significant group who offer faithful service to the parish, namely our Ministers of the Eucharist. We are all well aware of them at Mass each Sunday as they help in the distribution of Holy Communion to all of us. This is an important spiritual ministry, and one to which our Ministers are greatly dedicated.
What is perhaps lesser known is that a major function of their ministry is in taking Holy Communion to the elderly, the sick and the housebound in our parish. Mainly on Sundays, but also on every single day of the week, they sacrifice their time in order to bring the comfort of Holy Communion who are not able to attend Sunday Mass. They take Holy Communion to the sick in hospitals, and also to the homes of those who are unwell.
This is such a significant ministry on behalf of the parish because it is a real sign to the sick and the elderly that they remain at the heart of our parish life. No one should feel neglected or abandoned by the community because for a period of time, whether long or short, they are unable to be physically present with us at the celebration of Holy Mass. Indeed, it is important that we recognise that the sick and the elderly also bring countless blessings on our parish community through their patient acceptance of weakness and frailty, and through their prayer and trust in the mercy of God. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank not only our Ministers of the Eucharist, but also all our sick and elderly, as well as those who care for them.
I just wanted to say a few words about the process of making sure that all those who so wish, have the opportunity to receive Holy Communion either at home or in hospital. For those who need the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, it is essential to phone the parish office, and then either Fr Scott or myself will make a visit as soon as possible. We are chaplains to Constantiaberg Clinic, and often make sick calls there. Other hospitals have their own chaplains too, so a call to the parish will ensure that all those in need will have the opportunity to receive the Holy Sacraments.
For those who would simply like to receive Holy Communion at home or in hospital, the process is much the same. The crucial thing is to phone the parish office so that we know there is a need. Then arrangements will be made as quickly as possible to ensure that all our sick and elderly have access to the gift of God in Holy Communion.
We do the best we can to make sure that no one is left neglected or feeling isolated from the parish. But it is very important that the families of the sick do let us know, so that we can respond. Let each of us always remain aware of the need to pray for our sick members, and to remember the blessing that they are to us.
Fr Gerard, CSsR