Ministries of Mercy - Visitation at 6363 9th Avenue North, Saint Petersburg, FL 33710 US - Parishioners Respond to Jesus’ Call by Visiting Nursing Home

Parishioners Respond to Jesus’ Call by Visiting Nursing Home


Volunteers from the Nursing Home Visitation Ministry of St. Raphael Catholic Church visit the residents of Shore Acres Rehabilitation Center to take Holy Communion and visit with them.

In 2006, Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg began the Ministries of Mercy initiative to support and foster parish ministries that serve the poor, suffering, and marginalized. The initiative focuses on five areas where the need is the greatest: food & clothing, shelter, life, visitation, and health. With the help of volunteers, the Ministries of Mercy are currently serving in various parishes and the following story highlights St. Raphael’s Nursing Home Visitation Ministry.

Louise Barrett, parishioner of St. Raphael Catholic Church, smiles as she greets Roberto, a resident of Shore Acres Rehabilitation Center. She has been visiting the center and taking Holy Communion to the residents for 11 years. On this day, Roberto, who wears a white shirt and navy pants, has been waiting patiently for Louise. He shows her his Spanish Bible and she attempts to say the Our Father in Spanish. When Louise gives Roberto Holy Communion and they pray together, he requests that they include his family, in particular, his daughter.

Louise is the coordinator of the Nursing Home Visitation Ministry of St. Raphael Catholic Church. She and eight other parishioners, volunteer their time every Sunday to visit the residents at the center. “We visit the residents to bring the Lord to them and because some have no family and our visit may be the only one they receive,” she says.

As she enters Carl’s room, her next visit, Louise explains that she is there to pray and visit with all the residents who request a visit, Catholic and non-Catholic. She greets Carl, who is not Catholic, asks how he is doing, and describes the beauty of the flowers in the church sanctuary that morning. She asks if he would like to listen to the Gospel of John, and he says yes. “I think the Gospel is fantastic,” he says. “Thomas had the same reaction I would have had.” Louise concludes the visit by sharing a blessing with Carl and talking to him about a wheelchair he’s been waiting on.

Linda Champion has been distributing Holy Communion to the residents at the center for four years. She says that at first she was scared, but now, cannot give it up. On this day, she will visit Mark, a resident of the center. He’s in bed covered with a red blanket embroidered with the words “God is Love”. Linda greets him and his roommate, who is also laying in bed. After they talk about the news and baseball, she proceeds to read the Gospel of John and to give Holy Communion to Mark. Before she is done, Mark’s roommate asks if she would pray for his mother; she does and shares a blessing with him.

Next are Jerry and Norman, both Catholic. They light up as Joan Priest enters their room. They know she is there to visit with them and to give them Holy Communion. Jerry tells Joan he’s happy with his new roommate, Norman, and for having recently become Catholic. Joan prays the Our Father with both men, reads the Gospel to them, and shares a blessing with them as they receive Holy Communion.

The volunteers say they feel fortunate to be able to visit the residents. Angela says she leaves every Sunday “feeling good and blessed to able to bring Christ to them”. And Louise explains that while they distribute Holy Communion they develop relationships and provide companionship.

To read about other visitation ministries, the Ministries of Mercy, and to find a ministry near you in need of donations and volunteers click here. To volunteer your time to the Nursing Home Visitation Ministry at St. Raphael Catholic Church contact Louise Barrett at 727-821-2561or email AMBLAB@aol.com.

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