October 28, 2022

The gift of sharing the Eucharist leads people to draw closer to others and to God

As an extraordinary minister of holy Communion for St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute, Betty Kapellusch shares the Eucharist with Betty Seprodi, a member of the parish for 73 years, during her weekly visit with Seprodi. (Submitted photo)

As an extraordinary minister of holy Communion for St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute, Betty Kapellusch shares the Eucharist with Betty Seprodi, a member of the parish for 73 years, during her weekly visit with Seprodi. (Submitted photo)

Part two

By John Shaughnessy

The woman’s question jolted Betty Kapellusch.

A short time earlier, Kapellusch had brought Communion to the woman in one of the four nursing homes she visits as part of her ministry for St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute. Now, she was taking the woman to a doctor’s appointment, but she had to make a stop at the parish church first.

That’s where the elderly woman asked the question that made Kapellusch think even more deeply about being an extraordinary minister of holy Communion:

“Do you know how lucky you are to work so close to God?” the woman asked.

That question led to a moment of revelation for Kapellusch.

“I thought, ‘Wow! I never looked at it liked that before,’ ”

she says. “She said it was because I always have the Eucharist with me. She was so incredibly right on.”

Kapellusch has been bringing the Eucharist to Catholics who are homebound, in nursing homes and in Union Hospital in Terre Haute for nearly 20 years.

Her efforts reflect the contributions of so many extraordinary ministers of holy Communion across the archdiocese—which is in the first year of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival that will culminate in July of 2024 when the first National Eucharistic Congress in nearly 50 years is held in Indianapolis.

“It’s such a wonderful ministry,” she says. “These people have been parishioners all their lives and now they’re not able to attend Mass. But through these visits and receiving the Eucharist, they still feel a part of our faith community.”

The people that she brings Communion to have become so much a part of her life that she regards them as friends. Those friendships have led to moments of holiness, heartbreak and even humor.

“I used to have an Irish lady who had quite a sense of humor,” Kapellusch says. “She said, ‘I don’t know the proper way to pray.’ I told her to just talk to Jesus like a friend. She said, ‘Well, I have been, but I’m trying to stop cussing so much when I talk to him.’ ”

Kapellusch laughs again at that moment before adding, “She loved receiving Communion. They all do. They look forward to it. I have a couple I visit, and the woman can’t talk. I think she may have had a stroke. The last time I gave Communion to her, she smiled at me and tapped her heart—to let me know how much she loves the Eucharist. It made me want to cry.”

It’s all led to a feeling of family for Kapellusch. Besides taking people to doctor’s appointments, she also occasionally picks up a few items for them at the grocery store. Still, she knows the greatest nourishment she offers them is the Eucharist.

“I’ve always enjoyed doing this, but realizing the importance of what it means to them to receive the body of Christ is overwhelming. To see the love they have for the Eucharist and the faith they have, it’s humbling.

“It’s deepened my faith considerably. Anybody who does this will see it’s a beautiful, beautiful blessing. It’s a labor of love for me.”

‘It has made me so much closer to Jesus’

Rita Boehm needed to talk with Jesus to get his help with a tough choice she had to make. So she stopped at a nearby church to spend an extra visit with him during eucharistic adoration.

At 95, Boehm has lived her life without drawing any attention to herself, and now she had been asked to share her story with The Criterion of how she has served as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion for 40 years, including how she still drives several times a week to bring the Eucharist to people who are homebound or in nursing homes in the New Albany area.

After her conversation with Jesus, Boehm agreed to talk about her experiences of bringing Communion to others—as long as the story didn’t focus on her.

“Don’t talk about me. Just talk about how important Jesus is in all of these people’s lives,” said the member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany. “Please play me down and play all these people up.”

It all started for her 40 years ago when one of her aunts—“a dear, dear person”—was in an assisted living facility.

“She didn’t have any children, and she didn’t have anyone to take Communion to her, so I did.”

A short time later, during her daily walks, she visited a friend in a nursing home. When she asked him who was bringing him Communion, he said no one. When she asked if he would want her to bring the Eucharist to him, he said, “I would love it.”

“It kind of snowballed from there,” she says. “I started going to the rooms of the nursing home. ... After a while, you become friends with the people.”

The number of nursing homes she visits has expanded to eight.

Boehm also brings Communion every day to one of her closest friends who is homebound.

“After I go to church, I stop by her home to see her. She’s so grateful. We’ve become almost like sisters. We tell each other everything. She’s a mother of 11, and I’m a mother of three.

“Some of these people don’t have any visitors. It’s a great blessing for them to see someone and receive Jesus at the same time. That’s what they tell me.”

In the rare moment that Boehm focuses on herself, it’s to talk about the way she can relate to how meaningful it is for the people she visits to receive Communion.

“When we weren’t able to go to Mass for a month or more because the churches were closed because of COVID, if someone would have brought me Communion to my door, I would have gotten down on my knees and kissed their feet. That’s when I knew how important it is for people to continue this ministry.”

Blessed with good health so far, she has no intention of stopping her ministry. She just wishes there was more help now and in the future.

“I still can drive, but I’m not going to be able to do this forever. There’s about five of us now, and we’re hoping to get more. I would just explain to people what a great reward we get out of this.

“It gives you such a totally different feeling in your relationship with God when you do this ministry. It has made me so much closer to Jesus. He truly is my friend. I tell him every time I go to the nursing home that I’m so grateful he is going with me and holding my hand and leading me. I’m so glad he is there.

“What would we do without Jesus?” †

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