A seminary professor once told us a story about how quickly a rumor can get out of hand.
One day, while his church was being cleaned, the nameplate for his confessional was left off the door. Some parishioners saw the door without a name, and presumed that he was being transferred. But because he was a Canon Lawyer, he’s not just being trans- ferred… he’s being transferred to Rome! And if he’s being transferred to Rome, well, he must be being made a bishop! At this point, a parishioner cornered the priest and angrily asked why he hadn’t told the parish he was being made a bishop. You can imag- ine the confusion this poor priest felt!
Why do I bring this up? Apparently the rumor mill has been in motion regarding our parish’s ministry to the homebound, so I thought I’d take a moment to try to clarify what my hopes are.
First: thank you to the many people who are bringing Communion to the homebound! The need to share this ministry goes back to Acts of the Apostles, when the Apostles (aka, the first bishops and priests) recognized that there was a need to recruit the first dea- cons to assist with ministry to the homebound (cf. Acts 6:1-7). Since then, this ministry has also been permitted to be shared with acolytes and the laity as well, under the title of Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (priests and deacons remain the ‘Ordinary Ministers’). It is very much a team effort, and I am grateful for those who sacrifice their time and energy to make sure all the homebound are receiving the graces of the Eucharist.
As the new parochial administrator, one of my top responsibilities is the care of the Blessed Sacrament – everything from ensuring a quality celebration of the Mass, to protecting the Tabernacle, to knowing where every Sacred Host is going. This is all in Church law. Fr. Chris had the advantage of knowing all the parishioners, as well as everyone who was helping with Communion to the homebound. Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with a photographic memory, so it’s taking me a while to get to know everyone’s name. So if I ask ‘who is this for?’, I’m simply seeking to know so I can keep track.
Why do I need to keep track? Regretfully, I’ve heard too many stories of priests finding Hosts under pews, or seeing them turn up on eBay. Just this past April, while I was leading a pilgrimage to France, a parishioner found a couple desecrated Hosts in a corner of the Louvre. Do I think anybody in our parish has malicious intent? Of course not… but I still have a responsibility to ‘trust but verify’.
We also have the blessing of having Mr. George Rhodes with us this year. His opportunity this year, beyond helping at Masses, is to participate in ministry to the homebound. This is meant to supplement, not replace, what is already in place. He is only with us most weekends during the academic year, and we may or may not have a seminarian next year in the same role.
To wrap it up: To those who minister to the homebound, thank you. Please keep up the good work! And please be patient with me as I ask questions and continue to learn. By working together, we’re able to bring Jesus Christ in word, sacrament and charity to others!
And, if you hear a rumor about some change or another… please call me.