By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator  

When Patience Moreno, a parishioner of St. Aloysius Church in Baton Rouge, was a patient at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, she was surprised when someone walked into her hospital room to distribute holy Communion.  

p 7 OLOL Eucharistic ministers.tif

Patience Moreno gets ready to distribute Holy Communion to patients at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. The hospital needs more volunteers to help with this ministry. Photo by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator

 

Moreno was surprised to see the person was a friend and was inspired to make this her own ministry.  

“I had friends that did it and I thought they were wonderful,” said Moreno. “When I was a patient, it made a difference to me and I wanted to have a ministry. I love the church and I’m big on evangelization, bringing the Lord to other people.”  

Moreno is one of about 30 eucharistic ministers that volunteer at OLOL each day, on a rotating schedule, bringing holy Communion to patients who request it. However, because of the demand, about 50 eucharistic ministers are needed, according to OLOL chaplain Father Donatus Ajoko.  

“This is a very Catholic community,” said Father Ajoko. “About 30 percent of our patients are Catholic; that means about 150 to 200 patients receive Communion.  

“Being Catholics, most of them want to receive Communion daily. Some of them are daily communicants in their parishes and for them, when they come here, they see it as something that brings comfort for them, so we try to make it available for them everyday.”  

Not all of the volunteers are eucharistic ministers at their churches, including Moreno, who received on-the-job training. Moreno recalled one visit with a patient who seemed angry with those in the room. She said she told him, “I know there must be a lot of things you would like to make peace with.”  

Moreno then offered Communion and said there was a marked difference in the patient’s demeanor. Another visit ended with the elderly patient cradling Moreno’s face and saying, “You’re a sweet angel.”  

Moreno said it was a moving moment for herself and the patient’s daughter who was delighted to see her mother interacting so sweetly.  

“Every time I come, I leave joy filled,” said Moreno. “I’ve found it a very humbling experience, and it always teaches me how wonderfully God works.  

“I always pray before I start. I pray, ‘Lord, this is your ministry. Give me the words to say or the needs to meet.’ ”  

When Moreno checks in, she picks up a list of the patients who have requested Communion. Sometimes it’s not always an opportune time for her visit as some patients might be asleep, visiting with a doctor or getting medication. But after making other rounds, she will return to those patients.  

If a patient is unable to swallow, Moreno offers to pray with them. Other times, she might find the patient is not feeling well or they’re getting ready for surgery and can’t take Communion, “so you have different situations that you try to honor.”  

“I find there’s so much joy in giving Communion for the person receiving it,” Moreno said with a smile. “And, if there’s family there and you’re all praying, they just overwhelm you with thanks and appreciation.”  

“We need more people to join in this ministry,” said Father Ajoko. “It is enriching, not just to the patients but to those that are administering communion.”  

For more information on how you can volunteer, call OLOL at 225-765-8848 or fill out a volunteer application online at www.ololrmc.com/Volunteer.