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Theresa Perry distributes holy Communion to patients at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in West Point.

Communion ministry a comfort to patients

Comforting the sick with compassion and the healing touch of Jesus in the Eucharist.

That’s the mission – a corporal work of mercy – of Theresa Perry and Jan Ulrich, members of St. Mary Parish in West Point.

They are among five volunteers who on weekends distribute holy Communion to Catholic patients at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in West Point.

The volunteers are important to the hospital’s mission "to live and promote the healing mission of Jesus Christ," said Mary Jo Shemek, hospital chaplain and a member of St. Anthony Parish in Columbus.

"For people to be able to receive holy Communion while they’re in the hospital is very meaningful and helpful and gives them the grace to walk through it," she said.

Perry has made it her mission to bring Communion to patients for the past seven years.

"I just feel like I’m doing something to get closer to the Lord," she said. "And Pope Francis wants people to do works of mercy, so it makes me feel like I’m doing something to help other people."

Perry also takes time to stay and talk with patients, especially if they seem to have no one to visit them. "You can kind of tell by how talkative they are that they’re glad to have people come and visit," she said.

"When I’m there, I can see they’re grateful that someone has come to bring them holy Communion and to be able to talk to somebody," Perry said. "It gives them some comfort, especially if they’re very ill."

Ulrich said she, too, visits with patients. If they’re not feeling well, she asks if they would simply like to join her in praying the Our Father.

She said her love for the Lord motivates her.

"Everybody needs our Lord, and I can help with that by being able to give them Communion and make them more comfortable that they aren’t missing out," Ulrich said.

"A lot of people really appreciate it and are glad that it’s available to them. If I were in the hospital, I’d be very thankful that someone brought Communion to me."

Ulrich said she feels blessed to be part of the Communion ministry. "It’s really a gift to me that I’m able to do this."

Through the years, Ulrich and Perry have volunteered to bring people the Eucharist in several ways.

Before joining the Communion ministry at the hospital more than five years ago, Ulrich took Communion to home-bound parishioners.

And Perry continues to distribute Communion to residents of a nursing home in West Point, where a deacon from St. Mary Parish leads a Sunday morning Communion service. She also lectors and distributes Communion at the 7:15 a.m. weekday Mass at St. Mary and leads the rosary before Mass.

"I feel very blessed this past year because I received a kidney transplant, and I know I had a lot of people praying for me, so I have a lot to be thankful for," Perry said. "So I feel that if I do things like this for other people it’s like paying it forward."

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