‘Amazing exchange’: Lay ministers on delivering the Eucharist to those in need

By Mary Brazell, 18 June 2024
Image: gypsy.aiko/Shutterstock.com


Providing the Eucharist to those who are sick or housebound is a nourishing experience for both the participant and the minister.

Catholic Outlook asked two lay Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who also serve as Ministers to the Sick and Dying about the power of this outreach to some of the most vulnerable in our community.


Marie Prendeville
St Nicholas of Myra Parish, Penrith

Marie Prendeville, parishioner at St Nicholas of Myra Parish, Penrith. Image: Supplied

As a small child, I remember Father Reader coming to my Granny’s house to bring her Holy Communion. With Gran propped up in bed, looking rather frail, Father made the Sign of the Cross and began the prayers. Gran was given Holy Communion and the Sacrament of the Sick while we participated in silence and reverence.

This was a long time ago, but it made a big impression on me. I knew how important this was for our family and for our darling Gran.

I became an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist to the sick and homebound by accident. I offered to be the driver of one of our dedicated parishioners, Hugh McCann, who had been serving in this ministry for almost 50 years.

Hugh graciously accepted my offer and together, we set out in ministry. Supported by the administration and organisation of Hugh’s late wife Jane, who was an amazing powerhouse of prayer and encouragement, we knew where we were going and who we were serving.

We attend the weekly 8.30am Sunday Mass and are commissioned by the Parish community to take the Eucharist to the sick, homebound and those living in an aged care facility. It reminds us that there are many who hunger for the Eucharist, but are often unable to be present at the Sunday Eucharistic table.

We go to The Royce Retirement Village to bring Communion to the aged care residents unable to get to Mass. This has proved to be a most sacred and beautiful experience.

Not only are we giving the Lord Jesus as food and sustenance to those hungering for the Lord, but we often minister to their families as well. It has been moving to see how the staff approach this. They are happy to help us and to support what we are doing.

Here, the most amazing exchange takes place.

We are no longer the dispenser of this most holy of Sacraments, but we become recipients of the grace and power promised by Jesus.

We share in the intimate and life-giving power this Sacrament imparts – Jesus, the Bread of Life, who comes to bring life, and life to the full.

There is a dynamic element to this ministry powered, I believe, by the Spirit of God. Hugh is no longer able to continue the active role he once had and Jane has recently died, but still the work continues.

It is indeed a great privilege.


Annette Tan
Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville

Annette Tan, parishioner at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

For the past eight years, I’ve been going to a nursing home every week on a Wednesday morning to administer the Eucharist to Catholic residents.

Initially, we had a communion service where I’d give Holy Communion to those Catholic residents who were able to come, then I would take Holy Communion to those residents who were in their rooms. When the residents were locked down during COVID, they began to watch daily TV Mass on Wednesdays from the Loreto Abbey in Toronto, Canada. After lockdown, they still wanted to watch the Mass, so we would watch Mass together and when it comes time for Holy Communion, I pause the recording, and they receive Holy Communion. I then visit those unable to come to Mass and give them Communion.

Communion to the sick is a very important ministry because many residents miss going to Mass on Sundays. They appreciate receiving the Eucharist and many say, ‘I feel much better after Communion’ or ‘thank you so much, you don’t know what it means to me’. Receiving Communion does affect their wellbeing.

There have been times when a resident may not have received Communion for some time before coming to the nursing home, and over time, by the grace of God, they become willing to receive Jesus again.

The residents are part of the parish, and by sending an Extraordinary Minister to bring them Holy Communion shows that the Parish hasn’t forgotten them. Even if I am tired at times, the reality is that the residents’ needs are greater than mine and I am there to minister to them.

The Eucharist is the centre of Catholic life – it’s Jesus Himself. We can’t minister in the name of Jesus if we’re not in personal contact with Him through prayer.

The Eucharist is Jesus touching us physically and we are touching Him. We hear in the scripture of people with faith that touched Jesus and were healed, and I remind people of that.

As a lay woman, I take seriously my sharing in the priesthood of Jesus through Baptism – the common priesthood of the laity. Sharing in the common priesthood gives me the privilege and responsibility to pray and intercede for others, to celebrate the Sacraments, to offer the Mass and to serve others in the name of Jesus. Bringing Communion to the sick is part of service in the name of Jesus.

All of us together – bishops, priests, deacons and laity – are called to the same holiness, and together, we are all responsible for spreading the Light of Christ and bringing Christ to others.


Are you interested in bringing Communion to the sick in the hospitals of the Diocese? You will receive formation and information necessary for this ministry. You will not be required to do this every week but will be placed on a roster. For more information, please contact bernard.ellis@catholiccarewsbm.org.au

This article was originally published in the 2024 Ordinary Time | Winter edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can read the digital version here or pick up a copy in your local parish.


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