Friday, June 24, 2011

Our Experiences with Begging for the Eucharist During a Hospital Stay

My buddy Jen blogged about receiving the Eucharist for the first time out of a church.

I just wanted to share a funny story from Tessy's hospital stay.

Baby Tess spent 3 days in the PICU wing of a Catholic hospital from day 4 to day 7 after her birth. She had jaundice and needed to "bake" under those funny tanning bed like lamps. Jon and I had 72 hours without sleep and it was very confusing because Tess kept giving the doctors super weird test results. (Poor thing actually had jaundice as a result of a fatal digestive tract defect but no one had discovered it yet.)

At 7 AM Sunday morning, I was a weeping mess. At 5 AM, doctors said my baby could get discharged at noon if she didn't throw up anymore. Twenty minutes later my sweet newborn vomited all over everything and earned herself at least 24 hours more of hospitalization for observation.

My husband stepped in. He wisely decided that his wife needed the Eucharist. He asked the nurse to page someone from the Chaplains office. They sent up the Protestant Chaplain.

The lovely lady prayed for Tess and gave us some lovely words of encouragement.

Then my husband cut to the chase, "We're Catholics. Today is Sunday. We need the Eucharist."

The Chaplain explained "But I'm the Protestant Chaplain. I don't believe in that."

My husband spoke with this very firm, clear and yet still gentle voice. "But we do. All you have to do bring the Eucharist to us. We're the ones who eat it."

(Yes, we eventually got to receive the Body and Blood twice in the hospital on the very day that Tess got diagnosed with a fatal condition and transferred to Children's National Hospital in D.C. God bless the Eucharistic ministers who help Jesus make house calls!)


  1. Not very chaplainy of her to impose her lack of belief on you while your baby is in the NICU.

  2. Our hospital in the suburbs is so great. They ask your religion when you register and then a Eucharistic Minister from the local parish comes with Holy Communion EVERY DAY!!!

    One day I was lonely and hormonal and just in bed crying when the lady came in and I could not believe how good God was at sending her to me right at that moment! Hope you have a better experience with this next time...I wonder if calling a local parish and asking about it beforehand might be good?

  3. Hi! I am a chaplain at a large teaching hospital. While I totally agree that your chaplain's response wasn't very pastoral, she may simply be honoring your diocesan rules. As a Protestant, I am not allowed to offer Catholic Communion, no matter how much I like to would provide it for a patient. I am simply not an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. I can make sure a patient's name gets added to our Eucharistic minsters' list but because of their limited availability, particularly on weekends (they are volunteers), they aren't able to see everyone.

    Blair's advice is a good idea- often local parishes have their own hospital ministries.