Patricia Moyneur receives communion every Thursday in the activities room at Oakmont of Orange, the assisted living community where she has lived since the death of husband Leo Moyneur almost two years ago.
Moyneur, 86, her late husband and the couple’s eight children are longtime parishioners at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Santa Ana.
But since Moyneur is no longer able to attend church regularly, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion bring communion to her and other residents of Oakmont on Thursdays and Sundays.
“I’d be lost without it,” Moyneur said. “It’s part of life. I was just raised that way.”
Hundreds of Catholics throughout the Diocese of Orange have the Eucharist brought to them, individually or as part of small groups, by priests, deacons or Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to the Sick.
Richard Rozak, a Eucharistic Minister for more than 30 years, has been serving communion to Oakmont residents for about a year and serving the Host to sick and homebound Catholics since 2017.
Rozak serves Communion to Oakmont residents on Thursdays and serves other homebound Catholics on other days.
RICHARD ROZAK PRAYS WITH RESIDENTS OF THE OAKMONT RETIREMENT COMMUNITY FOLLOWING COMMUNION IN ORANGE ON THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 2022. PHOTO BY DREW KELLEY
“There are people who obviously feel communion is extremely important to them,” said Rozak, a semiretired college math professor. “Communion is the hallmark of their faith.”
Rozak begins the Communion Service at Oakmont with prayers which he had printed on laminated sheets of paper for each participant.
Prayers typically consist of three Hail Mary’s and “Glory Be” for an intention of one or more of the participants, Rozak said, however Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion usually tailor the service to their recipients’ situations.
“It’s kind of like a little family getting together,” Rozak said. “Probably the biggest plight of (elderly) people is being alone.”
Although it’s called a Catholic Prayer Service, the service is open to anyone, Rozak said, and non-Catholics sometimes attend without receiving communion.
Oakmont resident Joyce Brown, 89, a lifelong resident of Santa Ana and the second of four generations of parishioners at St. Joseph’s, also receives communion on Thursdays and Sundays. Brown, a mother of four sons, no longer attends Mass but watches it on television every Sunday.
“It’s so difficult for me to go out,” said Brown, former director of Catholic Charities and Holy Family Adoption Services. “For Richard to come here is just fabulous.”
Communion service started at Oakmont about a year ago, when resident Dorothy Brikich called Holy Family Catholic Church in Orange and requested communion be brought to her, Rozak said.
“She was so elated with the experience that she wanted to share her joy with other Catholics at the facility,” he said. “To this end, she asked her newly discovered Catholic friends if they’d also like to receive the Eucharist.
The response was so positive, that Oakmont activities director Vinnie Villapando arranged for communion service to be a regular part of the schedule for residents.
“It’s a big a deal for them to have communion and their spirituality is very important to them, so it really helped them out,” Villapando said.
Father Rudy Alumam of Holy Family, who oversees the parish’s Eucharistic Ministry, said Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion serve a vital role in the church and are used by virtually every parish.
“It’s extremely important because the parishioners who are homebound are part of our community and the sacrament is important them,” Fr. Alumam said. “We can reach out to them and pray with them and share the word of God. We want to be able to minister to them even in their own homes and situations of infirmity.”
Oakmont resident Miguel Maldonado, 89, is also a regular attendee at communion service on Thursdays and Sundays.
A native of Ecuador, Maldonado spent much of his life working in mines in Canada before migrating to the U.S. He moved into Oakmont from his home in Lakewood about a year ago.
“I believe in God and the vision of Mary,” Maldonado said. “That is why I take communion every Sunday.
St. Joseph Catholic Church in Placentia describes Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion as volunteers who “bring the Church to people who cannot physically come to church. In this way, the sick and homebound are united to the Body of Christ present in our community. We continue the healing and compassionate ministry of Jesus, as members of His Body. It is always in Jesus’ Name that we visit.”
The Diocese of Orange encourages homebound and infirmed Catholics and their families to contact their individual parishes for communion service.
“It’s a ministry which I think is necessary and useful,” Rozak said. “I get as much out of it almost as they do. It is nice to see that they are cared for.”