The Catholic Church visits Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) on weekdays. Once a month a Priest conducts a weekday Mass. That’s it! Almost all U.S. parishes follow this general procedure. Who decided that this was all that senior citizens need, or merit? Is it just a matter of convenience? Nothing to support this tradition is found in scripture or catechism, but there is much to support the view that the Lord wants Catholics to pray together, and enjoy Holy Communion, on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Few Parishes have attempted to find a way to offer ALFs a Sunday Communion Service. Eucharistic Minister Jim Plautz, in Tampa, Fla., asks, “Why not?”
“It was my seventh birthday. I remember the day well,” recalls Jim Plautz. “It should have been a happy day, but Danny ruined it when he said, ‘Catholics, seven years and older, can’t miss church on Sundays. Now you need to go to church every week. It’s a mortal sin if you don’t.'” Wow, what a responsibility.
“My brother and I were walking with our friends, Jim and Danny. We used to walk to church together, just the four of us. St. Mary’s was closer, but we walked to St. Rita’s because Mass lasted only 35 minutes. Once they stopped for ice cream on the way home. My brother used the nickel my parents gave each of us before we left home. ‘You didn’t put yours in the collection box, did you?’ They laughed.
“Now, 65 years later, I find myself helping ALF residents that want to go to church on Sundays, but cannot. Many are in wheelchairs or walkers and would go, if they could. So, I bring church to them. I’m just a Eucharistic Minister, not a Priest. It’s not ideal, but enabling senior citizens, many of whom have attended Sunday Mass for 70-plus years, to listen to the liturgy, pray together and receive Holy Communion on the Lord’s Day, is better than nothing.”
Christian Churches visit ALFs on Sundays. Of the ALFs Plautz has contacted, 83% have a pastor, preacher, or another to hold a Christian service on Sundays – Protestant, Baptist, Lutheran, non-denominational – just not Catholic. A few offer communion, just not the Eucharist. “I applaud their efforts. They fill a void,” says Plautz.
His Parish is no different. Efforts to expand the Sunday ministry (www.SundayALFMinistry.Org) have been tolerated, at best. “I visit two ALFs on Sundays, providing Communion to 30-40 Catholics and blessings to 20-30 others, mostly Christians, but have no backup. No effort is made to recruit Eucharistic Ministers for Sundays. A third ALF in our Parish, much larger than the two I visit, would welcome a Sunday Communion Service. Two ALFs in the adjoining Parish are interested, but that Parish is also content with weekday visits by EMs and once-a-month Mass,” Plautz explains.
The procedures followed in conducting Communion Services are written by the Diocese, but no support is provided by the Diocese. Why won’t Bishops suggest to Pastors to look into the possibility of conducting Sunday Communion Services?
“My mother converted to Lutheran when she married my step-dad. My brother and I were raised Catholic, but I wasn’t ‘confirmed’ until I was 71, sixty-two years after my First Communion. Maybe this is why a seven-year-old boy, who didn’t want to attend church every week, is now trying to offer senior citizens a drink of water, at a time in their lives when it matters most.”
Jim Plautz is a Eucharistic Minister to the Sick and Homebound. – PRNewswire.