Diocesan News

‘Bringing Christ to others’

Story by Reagan Scott

(SNR) - In the Lincoln Diocese, there are many parishes with volunteers who go to visit patients in nursing homes.

Whether these volunteers are administering Communion or just spending time with residents, the people they serve are grateful.

In Lincoln, a group of volunteers from Cathedral of the Risen Christ Parish goes to The Ambassador every Wednesday to help provide for the spiritual needs of the residents there.

On the first Wednesday of every month, Father Thomas MacLean celebrates Mass for the Catholic residents at The Ambassador.

On every other Wednesday of the month, Mike Sullivan, a Cathedral parishioner, will bring Communion to the Catholic residents. In the dining room of The Ambassador, Sullivan, Catherine Haden, Mary Queen, Irene Kearney and Karen Hakenkamp participate in a Communion service before taking the residents back to their rooms. All of these volunteers have been serving the residents at The Ambassador for many years.

“We chat with them and try to be family for them,” Haden said. “They thank all of us every week; they’re very grateful that we can come.”

One thing Haden said she noticed at The Ambassador is how the Catholic residents have supported each other in their faith. One woman invites other residents to come to her room every day to pray the rosary, which she plays on a tape from EWTN.

“They continue to build on their spiritual growth together,” Haden said.

On Sundays, members of Cathedral’s Eucharistic team take Communion to all of the Catholic patients in nursing homes within Cathedral’s boundaries, as well as to private residences. 

One of Cathedral’s missions is to reach out to people, and through volunteering at The Ambassador, the volunteers do just that.

“We want people to know that if they are in the Cathedral boundaries, they are family, whether they are Catholic or non-Catholic,” Haden said.

The parishioners at St. Patrick Parish in Utica also do what they can to reach out to the residents at the Utica Community Care Center.

Every Friday, pastor Father Maurice Current brings Communion to the residents at the care center and on First Fridays, he celebrates Mass for the residents.

“The residents always look forward to Father coming every Friday,” said Donna Richards, a member of the Legion of Mary and Homebound Ministry at St. Patrick Parish.

Every Monday, Richards visits the residents with cookies and coffee, and on Thursdays, she recites the rosary with them.

Every third Sunday of the month, members of the Legion of Mary hold devotions at Utica Community Care Center, which the residents, both Catholic and non-Catholic, can enjoy. They read Sunday’s Mass readings and will sing a hymn in between. One of the members of the Legion plays the guitar, and the residents enjoy singing along.

One thing that St. Patrick Parish does to support the residents at Utica Community Care Center is sponsoring a Christmas Gift Shop for the residents every year. Parishioners donate gifts for the shop every holiday. At the gift shop, residents can use points to buy gifts to send to their families.

St. Patrick’s Homebound Ministry also serves residents in the parish by sending cards to the homebound. They also visit the homebound and another woman from the parish who is at a different care facility.

In these ways, the members of St. Patrick Parish can serve those who aren’t able to visit the parish to attend Mass and enjoy fellowship with other parishioners.

“I think it adds some joy to their lives, if the residents have someone who comes frequently, they can find a friend,” Richards said. “I get as much out of it as they do, they’re very special people.”

Kathy Ptacek is the vice president of the Parish Council of Catholic Women (PCCW) at St. Anthony Parish in Bruno. She and other members of the PCCW go to David Place and St. Joseph’s Villa nursing homes in David City to play bingo with the residents four to five times a year.

Ptacek has been visiting the residents since 2014 and will often take her mother with her.

“My mom is in a wheelchair, and she always enjoys going out and getting to talk to the residents,” Ptacek said.

Usually, 25 to 30 residents will participate in bingo. Winners get to select prizes from a tray of goodies including fruit and cookies. According to Ptacek, bananas are a favorite among the residents.

“The residents love bingo, and they look forward to it,” Ptacek said. “It’s enjoyable just to see the residents play.”

Whether they are sharing Communion with the residents at nursing homes, or simply spending time with them, these volunteers have certainly made a significant impact across the diocese.

“It’s a way of being a Christ-like person in the residents’ lives. Bringing Christ to them makes a difference in their week and their lives,” Haden said.

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