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July, 2019

New Campus Ministry Program:
CUA Eucharistic Ministers Serve at Washington Hospital Center

By Catherine Lee

Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., and university administrators and staff stand outside Washington Hospital Center where they volunteer as eucharistic ministers. (From left:) Emily Glicksman, Marion Gosney, Jessica DePrizio, Sara Thompson, Father Schlageter, Doris Torosian.
Doris Torosian, Catholic University’s director of financial aid, was a bit nervous when she first went from room to room at the Washington Hospital Center in June, giving Communion to patients.
She worried about how she should approach them. What would she say if they didn’t care to receive the Eucharist?
But Torosian quickly became comfortable in her new role and now she says it’s something she’d wholeheartedly encourage CUA students to do. And that, says Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., university chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, is the reaction he was expecting.

“This is so in keeping with the spiritual nature of the university and our Catholic mission,” says Father Schlageter, who proposed the eucharistic ministry program involving the hospital and members of the CUA community. “It seems like something we’re called to do.”

Nearly 20 CUA administrators and staff have served as hospital eucharistic ministers this summer to get the Campus Ministry program started, but in September students will take their place.

Father Schlageter came up with the idea for the program at the end of the spring 2005 semester after spending some time visiting a couple of CUA students who were patients at Washington, D.C.’s largest hospital, located about a mile from campus.

He got to know the three Catholic chaplains who minister to Catholic patients at not only the Washington Hospital Center but also the nearby National Rehabilitation Hospital and Children’s National Medical Center. At the Washington Hospital Center, the chaplains say Mass daily at a small chapel, take the Eucharist to patients and share on-call duty. Periodically a seminarian will help distribute Communion.

“Having the folks from Catholic University assist us with Communion has been a great help,” says Rev. Jim Moran, one of the chaplains. “It allows us to spend more time with those patients who haven’t been to Church in a while but might be thinking about going back.”

Previous experience as a eucharistic minister is not required to join the program, says Jessica DePrizio, associate campus minister for liturgy and worship. However, students who are interested in participating have to apply to become Washington Hospital Center volunteers, adds DePrizio.

To become a volunteer, students are required to attend an orientation session, fill out a hospital volunteer application form, turn in immunization forms and take a series of online tests. DePrizio recommends that interested students call the Campus Ministry office at extension 5575 to get the application process started as quickly as possible.

Torosian, who frequently attends early-morning Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception before starting her day at the financial aid office in McMahon Hall, says that serving as a eucharistic minister involves more than just giving out Communion.

“Sometimes people also want to talk,” says Torosian. “When people are ill, they become more reflective and they really appreciate someone taking an interest in their concerns. It makes a difference in their day. I know seeing them makes a difference in mine.”


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Last Revised 26-Aug-05 12:34 PM.