The number of our parishioners who are sick or homebound is growing, as it becomes more and more difficult for overworked clergy to keep up in ministering to them. Those who can't come to Mass are still members of the church, part of the Body of Christ. It is our responsibility to stay connected to them.
Fortunately, many lay Catholics have the gifts and ability to help in this special form of pastoral care. And, fortunately, our church empowers extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to serve in this way.
However, to do this ministry well, it takes intentionality, preparation, formation, and organization. In this free guide, former hospital chaplain, spiritual director, and parish eucharistic visitors coordinator Ann Naffziger leads you through best practices for leading this ministry in your parish.
- A Growing Need • Even if they are not on your radar, your parish almost certainly has homebound or sick members who are not being served. When we visit the sick or those "imprisoned" in their homes, we are visiting Christ.
- Jesus Deserves That We Do This Well • However, good intentions are not enough. Eucharistic visitors must be formed and prepared well for this sometimes challenging ministry. It is not only distributing the Eucharist, but also providing pastoral care.
- Gathering Your Team • We provide tips for assessing candidates' gifts, thinking creatively about who to recruit, setting expectations early on, and choosing a coordinator.
- Who to Visit? • Identifying those who need a visit is not always as easy as it sounds. We offer an outreach checklist to get you started.
- Training & Formation • Guidelines for both initial and ongoing formation for your team.
- Equipping & Commissioning • Suggestions for formally commissioning your ministers and giving them tools to equip them for this ministry.
- Additional Resources • An extensive list organizing resources topically.
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The Pastoral Center
Ann Naffziger has her MDiv from the Jesuit School of Theology and MA in Biblical Languages from the Graduate Theological Union, both in Berkeley. Ann has worked in a variety of parish roles, as well as serving as a hospital chaplain, spiritual director, scripture instructor, and lecturer at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University. She has written articles in the field of spirituality and scripture for America, BustedHalo.com, Commonweal, The National Catholic Reporter, Spiritual Life: A Journal of Contemplative Spirituality, and other publications. She is also a Master Gardener and girls' softball coach.