TAMPA, Fla., Dec. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Pope Francis ended a three-week synod on family issues by delivering a speech Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, in which he used the story of Jesus and Bartimaeus (Mark: 46-52) as an analogy warning church elders against exclusion of those deserving of God's grace. As Jesus and his disciples left Jericho for Jerusalem, Francis said, Jesus was the only one among his entourage who stopped to address the blind man's cries. None of the disciples stopped, as Jesus did; they continued to walk, going on as if nothing were happening. If Bartimaeus was blind, they were deaf; His problem was not their problem.
Are we blind to the spiritual needs of our senior citizens living in Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs)? They can't get to church, but still have spiritual needs, now, more than ever. A Catholic church in Lutz, Florida, is doing something about it. Communion services are offered at two ALFs that allow Catholics to pray together and receive Holy Communion, on SUNDAYS.
Why Sundays? Because the Catholic Catechism says: "The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and His Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life (Paragraph 2177). Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church."
"Catholic churches have sent Eucharistic Ministers (EMs) to ALFs on weekdays for many years," says Jim Plautz, a Eucharistic Minister who does both. "Weekday visits are good, but it's not the same. We can do more to help the Catholics that are not physically able to attend Sunday Mass. Priests and Deacons are busy on Sundays, so we asked, why not train EMs to offer a brief Communion Service on Sundays? We decided to try it at two locations and the feedback has been gratifying."
Betty (78) – "It's almost like being in church. This is my family now."
Mrs. Sandusky (88) – "I know he isn't a Priest or Deacon, but I like to receive Holy Communion on Sundays."
Mrs. Caputo (85) – "I've attended church on Sunday for 75 years. I appreciate your coming here."
At each ALF, 10-15 Catholics pray as a group, listen to the liturgy and a synopsis of the homily given at Mass earlier that day/ EMs do not interpret scripture, but only convey the message given by the Priest or Deacon at the morning mass). The highlight of the service is Holy Communion. Blessings are offered to non-Catholic Christians that attend.
Jim says, "Weekday visits are primarily one-on-one. Sunday services are more about building rapport and creating a family environment. Praying 'together' is the key. The Sunday service is more gratifying," Jim says. "All ALFs with more than ten Catholics that cannot make it to church should be provided this opportunity. I pray that our success is a beacon for other Parishes. Sunday services help ALF residents to maintain their faith at a very challenging time in their spiritual lives."
Catholics in Lutz, Fla., living in ALFs, can now celebrate the Eucharist on Sundays; they are no longer being marginalized. Pope Francis should be pleased.
Please email Jim if you are aware of any Catholic Church that is providing ALF seniors the opportunity to pray together, and receive the Eucharist, on Sundays. Refer to Jim's website if you have questions about how to get started at your ALF.
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SOURCE Jim Plautz