I am an EMHC and Honored to be One

Christ truly present on the altar                    Catholic Stand                                               

By Larry Peterson

I wish to clarify something right away. I am NOT a Eucharistic Minister. I am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (EMHC). Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is the proper term for the people involved in this ministry. The term, “Eucharist” is never to be in their title. That term is reserved for the priest alone. (see Redemptionis Sacramentum).

I have been involved in many ministries over the years and have been an EMHC for 23 years. For me, nothing can compare to being an EMHC. It is all about Jesus, the person receiving Jesus, and you being the one who has brought them together. It does not get any better than that.

I rarely miss a visit to my homebound friends. As of this writing, I visit nine (9) every Sunday. Five of them are in their nineties. Honestly, it makes my day. Ironically, it makes their day too, (and sometime their week)  because they hardly see anyone during the week except home-health aides and folks like that.  All I come with is a smile, a church bulletin, maybe a prayer card and, of course, their BEST FRIEND.

I have a journaling book, and in the back, I have compiled names of people I have brought Holy Communion to over the years. I want to share a few of these folks with you. These are Catholic people who have lived their Catholic lives to the best of their ability. Many of them were children during the Great Depression and lived through World War II and into the 21st century. Like my friend, George.

George B.

George was  in the U.S. Navy and stationed in London in 1940 during the Blitzkrieg. He survived that, came home and wound up at Pearl Harbor. He was there on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked. He and a Marine corporal manned a 50 caliber machine gun and shot down two Japanese Zeroes. The two of them then proceeded to pull men out of the burning water near the USS Arizona.

After the war, he was in the circus for over 20 years. George died several years ago at the age of 97. I loved his stories. He was a walking history book, and he would get all animated when he was telling you about his adventures. I brought him Communion every Sunday for more than two years. What an honor that was.

Anne S.

She was 90 and would be dressed to the “T” every Sunday when I arrived. She would ask, “Why does God keep me here, Larry?”

“Anne,” I would say. “He needs Prayer Warriors. That’s what you are, and that’s why you are here. There are many souls in Purgatory. They need your help.”

She would always smile and point to her Rosary and her prayer books on the table next to her. She would point to them and say, “Yes, I know. I do keep busy.” Recruiting “prayer warriors” is an important part of what I do. Anne has been gone for five years.

And my little pal, Scotty.

Scotty Walker.

He was a St. Jude baby because of a tumor on his brain stem. That was in 1977 when he was only two years old. He was now 25. Only 4 feet, 4 inches tall; he started   his own lawn service when he was about 17.

Scotty wore a big straw hat, and his nose would be just above the lawn mower handle as he pushed it along. At the same time, he was studying for his GED. He worked his tail off until he could not any longer. I brought him Communion every Sunday during the last two years of  his life. He died in 2002 when he was 27. I miss him a lot.

Virginia

I have been seeing Virginia every Sunday for almost five years now.  Sunday, March 7, was her 99th birthday.  She lives on the first floor of a senior independent living center.

I arrived at the center around 10 a.m.  I went to the rear of the building to use the paging system, accessed her number and dialed, but there was no answer.  I kept hoping someone would leave so the doors would open, but no one came out.

Since she lived on the first floor, I walked around to her apartment window.  I was not sure if she was sleeping, had fallen, or, God forbid, worse.  I climbed around four-foot-high hedges to get to the window and began banging on it only to off an alarm system.

No one came so I finally gave up and left.

When I arrived home, I managed to get someone from the center’s management on the phone.  They could not give me any information.  I asked nicely, “Just cough if she is dead.”

“Sorry, sir,” was the reply.  “We will give your name and number to her son, who is her contact person.”

No one ever called.  I had the church office call twice, and the pastor himself called, to no avail.

On April 1, Holy Thursday, Virginia called the church office looking for me.  (She could not find my number.)  She had fallen and had been taken to the hospital.  They quarantined her for two weeks, and she had returned home on Wednesday, March 31.

I was finally able to visit Virginia again on Easter Sunday.  I brought her flowers and a Mass card for Easter and her birthday.  And when her 100th birthday is celebrated next year I intend to be there.

A Rewarding Ministry

I have been blessed to part of this ministry.  Seven of the people I visited received Viaticum from me.  It was not planned that way – it just happened.  I pray for each of them all the time.  So far, my list includes over 40 people who have passed on, including my wives (my first wife died in 2003, and my second wife died in 2017).

I would suggest you look in to being part of  this ministry.  You get to leave the church accompanied by Jesus.  Then the two of you get to go visiting His homebound or hospitalized people.  It is a beautiful thing.


He played football and learned the pain in his leg was not from football; it was bone cancer. He was eleven years old.

Venerable Angiolino Bonetta                                                                                                        public domain

By Larry Peterson

Angiolino Bonetta was born on Septemeber 18,1948, in Cigole, a town in northern Italy located in the Diocese of Brescia, a diocese established in the first century. His parents, Francesco Bonetta and Giulia Scarlatti were not poor and managed to make ends meet, but there were no “extras.”  As Angiolino grew, he displayed an inner happiness combined with an intelligent mind.

Angiolino attended schools taught by the Canossian Sisters of Charity. They noticed the intense devotion to prayer and how devoted he was for such a young boy. On April 14, 1955, at the age of six, he received his First Holy Communion. As Angiolino grew his love for the Holy Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Penance developed too. He became an altar boy and would serve Mass every Sunday. He also loved the nuns and would stay at school as long as he could to help them. The nuns, in turn, loved having Angiolino around. His eyes displayed love and kindness, and it was enjoyable being in his company.

As he grew, Angiolino was seen to be a fast runner, and he began to excel at playing football. But the youngster was developing a limp. And from its inception it got dramatically worse. Angiolino was also having sharp pain in his right leg.  His mom and dad had him admitted to the hospital for testing. The initial diagnosis came back as osteomyelitis in his right leg. He was then admitted to the civil hospital in Brescia where the diagnosis became more specific; the boy had osteosarcoma.

Angiolino’s life began its medical journey. He was in and out of the hospital on five separate occasions for treatments. It was two years after he first began limping and feeling pain when he was wheeled into the operating room. The date was May 2, 1961. That was the date his right leg was amputated. It was also the beginning of his painful post-operative period. During this time the physical pains were combined with psychic pain. Angiolino imagined he still had his leg and was feeling pain from something that was not there while feeling real pain from the amputation and the healing process.

This young man of great faith never failed to lean on Jesus and Our Lady. He would pray,  “Lord, I have offered you everything for the poor sinners, but now help me not to deny you anything.”  Next to his bed was an end table, and on it was the story of Fatima. He had read in it where  Our Lady asked people to offer penances and prayers for the conversion of sinners and the souls in purgatory. He promised Her he would do that, and he did.

After a long convalescence in the hospital, he returned home to find a party that had been arranged for him. Most of the guests were saddened to see Angiolino missing his leg. It was not a pretty sight. But it was Angiolino who cheered everyone up by yelling out, “This is a party! Look on the positive side. Now I do not have to wash my feet and cut my nails.”

He quickly began to work at cheering up those around him whether sick, injured, or not. He participated in the 1961 Spiritual Exercises held at the church of the Madonna del Sangue di Re (Novara) for the Volunteer Center of Suffering. He became a friend of all and was a role model for the sick. He comforted patients, visited wards, and always urged those he saw to strengthen themselves with prayer.

By 1962 the tumor had spread and was in the lung.  Radiation was no longer effective. It was during this time when he met Monsignor Luigi Novarese (beatified in 2010), the founder of the Volunteer for Suffering Center in 1947. He even managed to participate in a pilgrimage to Lourdes organized for the sick. He loved Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette.

On January 27, 1963, the parish priest heard Angiolino’s confession and brought Viaticum, his last Holy Communion. The boy was anointed, and he continued praying with those around him. At two in the morning, he awoke and said to his mother, “Mom, here we are. Here is my hour.” As he stared at the statue of Our Lady, he closed his eyes and died. The date was January 28, 1963.  He was fourteen years old.

On July 10, 2020, Pope Francis declared that Angiolino Bonetta was a young man of “heroic virtue” and declared him Venerable. His Beatification date has not been determined.