by Judith Fischer and Carolyn Garner-Reagan,
Co-Facilitators, Lay Visitation Ministry
“The body of Christ, the bread of heaven. The blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.” These are the familiar phrases heard as people receive the bread and wine during communion in church. These sacred phrases can also be heard and the bread and wine received, even when you or someone you know cannot attend church.
The Lay Visitation Ministry, under Pastoral Care Healing and Health, includes both Lay Eucharistic Visitors (LEVs) and Lay Pastoral Ministers (LPMs).
More than forty-five All Saints members have been trained to assist the clergy in bringing Christ’s presence in the Eucharist to parishioners who are unable to attend church due to recovery from surgery, hospitalization, or chronic conditions. They may also simply offer a pastoral care visit.
These dedicated and compassionate individuals also bring a sense of the All Saints community to those who are confined to home, the hospital, or skilled nursing facility. Some LEVs have served the same parishioner for many years; others may go out once or twice on short-term assignments. And many LEVs and LPMs travel considerable distances to serve the far-flung All Saints Diaspora.
Recently, Nicole Gatto, in her first experience as a LEV, served communion to Greg Tomkiel in Huntington Hospital. Greg said, ”It was nice of you to come. It spiritually uplifted me. Thank you a million times!” Nicole reflected that “‘I got more out of it than I gave,” an impression and feeling shared by many LEVs.
“I look forward to my lay minister’s visit. It is always a positive spiritual and social experience. Her visit makes me feel more a part of the church community,” says 96-year-old Hannah Lafler.
Mel Soriano puts it this way, “I have staggered away from LEV sometimes thinking how sacred those moments were, and how fortunate I was to be a part of their healing. I may be bringing them the bread and wine to feed and nourish, but my soul is fed and my heart is strengthened.”
Sharon Weiser and her dog Nicholas are a special LEV team who bring cheer to all whom they encounter on their visits to nursing homes and retirement communities. If you would like to receive communion from a LEV or simply a visit from a LPM volunteer while unable to attend church — or know of someone who would benefit (whether a member of ASC of not) — please contact Ana Camacho, 626.583.2737, firstname.lastname@example.org.