Diocesan Stories

Diocese of Winona-Rochester

"The Eucharist reminds me of this unwavering communion"

Melissa Schmid

No matter who we are or what we’ve done, God loves us, and He’s always chasing after us. I know God exists, and I know His love is true because I’ve spent time with Him in the Blessed Sacrament. 

When I sit with Jesus in Adoration, I let down my guard. I open my heart to Him and willingly share all my desires, thoughts, feelings, and ideas with Him. Once I acknowledge where I am at the moment, I ask Him to speak to me, which means I must be still. Oftentimes, I hear nothing. But even when I don’t hear His voice, I still feel His love and peace flowing through me. 

This is a love that God wants to give each of us. No matter who we are or what we’ve done. I can point to many times in my life when I’ve wandered away from the flock. The wandering was spurred by an idea that life is about my will – what I want is all that matters. But every time I moved away from God, I ended up finding myself stuck in mud, going nowhere. And yet, God loves us so much that he chases after us. Every time we wander away, the Good Shepherd runs toward us, sweeps us up in His arms, and holds us in such an intimate way that says, “You are Mine.” 

The Eucharist reminds me of this unwavering communion where we remain with Jesus. Nothing can break this union, as He assures us in John 10, verses 11-15: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me. Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father and I will lay down my life for the sheep.” 

Jesus reveals Himself to us in the Eucharist as a sign of God’s supreme love.

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“When we receive the Eucharist, we are blessed with Jesus himself.”


Early in the pandemic when I was working at a hospital, I was preparing to visit a patient and bring him Communion. Because of his condition, all staff entering his room were required to wear a mask, a face shield, and a yellow gown. I doubted that my attire would be of comfort to him but hoped that the Eucharist would be. I knew that my name tag was covered by the gown, and I was intending to tell him who I was and the purpose of my visit. However, he dismissed me before I got the words out. Rather than just leave, I introduced myself and said that I would come back later with Communion for him. He responded, “Oh, please come in. You have the most important gift.” 

This patient’s words brought tears to my eyes. They reminded me of being a patient myself one Christmas Day and the deep gratitude I felt for the opportunity to receive Communion and to the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, especially on that special day. His words also brought to mind the time, a few months earlier, when our churches were closed, and we could not attend Mass in person or receive the Eucharist. How hard those days were! The Eucharist is indeed “the most important gift”! 

When we receive the Eucharist, we are blessed with Jesus himself. How amazingly and mysteriously precious! This alone demands our thanks and praise. But Jesus’ gift to us doesn’t end at the altar or even as we leave church. It continues with us and calls us to be of service to others. As St. Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are Christ’s body.” Whenever I try to act in this way, I grow in the love Jesus has for me and for all, over and over again. Thanks be to God! 

We are all called to serve others by virtue of our baptism, but we are called in different ways, according to our gifts. Bringing Communion to the sick or those confined to their homes or residences is not for everyone, but it is for some. I personally love the ministry and always feel blessed in ways that touch me deeply.

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“I immediately thought I experienced a Eucharistic miracle”

Marilyn Baker

The Eucharist is the reason I am Catholic. 

I recently resumed serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. I experienced several miraculous things during the first Mass at which I served. First, I felt such joy offering the Precious Blood to each person who came forward. Second, the last person had a joyful smile on their face and that smile brought healing between that person and myself—a healing that only Christ could make happen. Third, at the end of that Sunday, after walking and standing much of the day, the pain in my right "arthritic toes" was no longer present. I immediately thought I experienced a Eucharistic miracle. 

I was hesitant to say anything to anyone because I thought they'd think I was crazy. On Tuesday after Mass, I was still pain free and told my Lumen Christi Prayer group because they had prayed for healing for my foot in the weeks before I resumed my service as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. 

When I saw my pastor Fr. Steffes the next Saturday before 8 p.m. Mass, I relayed my experiences at the previous Mass plus the fact I still was without right toe pain. My arthritic toes were and still are curled under and immobile, yet I'm able to walk without pain. It's now been three weeks without pain when I walk. I praise the Lord being able to walk without pain! Thank you Jesus in the Eucharist!

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“It's just Jesus and I. Me and Jesus. Jesus and me.”

Paul Byron

The Eucharist makes the difference to me knowing of God's love and how deep and personal His love is for me. By living a life of prayer I am able to grow in knowledge and understanding of how I can live in the Spirit. I never have to return to the slavery and feelings of living a life of redundancy wondering “What is my life all about? Why am I here?”. 

Once I realize God's love for me I want to receive Him properly, heart, soul and mind. He longs to give me graces that work quietly, and mysteriously in my heart. Often unnoticed I am able to see Him in others and others are able to see Him in me. When Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is among us, we don't have to go somewhere else or wait for some day because the kingdom of heaven is within us. 

I love going to Mass and preparing by calling to mind my sins and calling upon God to be merciful. I listen to the readings and its theme. I love singing the Psalms. The Gospel and homily challenge me to live the life I'm called to live. 

I love the early morning adoration that I have on Tuesdays at 6:00 a.m. In adoration I come and present myself to Jesus truly present. I begin with the office of the readings in the 4 volume and continue with morning prayer. It's a beautiful experience! If I am alone during this adoration time, I often sing the hymn and continue to morning prayer. I bring my journal because our Lord never ceases to inspire me with his wisdom! Amazing! It's just Jesus and I. Me and Jesus. Jesus and me. Good, bad, ugly. I'm here, Jesus is here and that's what matters. I can tell Jesus what I can't tell anybody else. I only get love and acceptance.

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"Receiving Eucharist, especially daily, has helped me become a better husband."

Dcn. Paul Tschann

As a deacon assisting at the altar, I am so blessed to be so close to the consecration of bread and wine when Our Lord Jesus allows himself to appear as these elements so that we are able to be nourished with His body and blood. In Our Lord's prayer He asks us to pray to God the Father, "give us this day our daily bread" and if we are able to go to Mass daily, we can receive and carry the Lord Jesus in our bodies to give us strength in pursuit of living a holy life. 

Attending daily Mass was not something I ever considered doing nor did I feel a need to attend Mass more than the obligation on Sundays and Holy Days. I was challenged by a bishop at a retreat some years back to make this commitment to receiving Eucharist daily. Logistically this was going to be difficult because I work as a nurse and had varied start times that would be different from one week to the next. Also I live in a rural area and daily Mass is not always offered at the same church. So I set out on my quest to see if I could actually do this and see how many days in a row that this would happen. I lost count after a while, it did not matter. This was the best thing I could have ever done. I had the bonus of being fed by the Word of God and following the amazing stories that sometimes took the week or even a few weeks to complete. On days when I could not attend, I turned to the Word Among Us or the Magnificat to fill in the gaps. This proved to be so needed when COVID disrupted an already challenging mission to find a daily Mass that fit my schedule. 

Over the years, making this commitment to God has transformed me beyond anything I thought was possible. I know I have changed, becoming more loving and patient with those around me. Receiving Eucharist, especially daily, has helped me become a better husband, a better father, a better nurse, and a better servant for God in all that I do. And I know my weaknesses, my faults, and ways that I can do better. I am often my worst critic, but with the strength I receive from Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar the pursuit of holiness is aided far greater than if I tried to do this all on my own.

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“The Eucharist has been a constant in my life”

Fr. Vincent Ferrer Bagan, O.P

Christians of all times and places, in obedience to Jesus’ command on the night before he died, have done this in memory of him, that is, they have come together for the Eucharist. It is the memorial of no less than the very actions by which he saved us, and it brings us the grace of that salvation anew every day while also making him present as our daily bread. Those two things are the difference that the Eucharist makes in my life: that it makes my Lord present to me in a way that nothing else does, and that it brings me every day into his salvation in a way that nothing else does. Over the years, I have lived in various places, and done various things in service of him, but the Eucharist is the stable memorial of his saving sacrifice that makes him present – always and everywhere for me as for Christians of all times and places. In short, it is the stable saving presence of God in my life, even when so many other things change. 

Because the Eucharist has been a constant in my life, in a certain sense it’s hard to say what healing and transformation I’ve experienced in my life that’s not connected to the Eucharist. Overall, I would say that, in spite of the effects of my own sins and those of others in my life, I have an abiding peace in who I am as an adopted son of God, a peace that perdures through both the joys and sorrows of life, and that peace comes from God’s presence, most especially in the Eucharist. There have also been many moments in my life – both in Adoration and in receiving Communion – where both peace and a deep joy in God’s presence have been especially present to me. As a priest, saying the words of consecration and holding the Lord’s Body and Blood is a daily moment of humility and conviction about who I am and who I am called to be in Christ. 

Just as the liturgy and particularly the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life (Sacrosanctum Concilium 10), celebrating Mass and receiving Communion is the source and summit of my day. The Latin for “source and summit” is “fons et culmen,” so another way to translate it might be “font and culmination,” the thing from which something comes as well as the thing toward which it is directed, the home base and the goal. This connects to Jesus being the Alpha and the Omega, to him being all in all. Mass is the time in the day or week when everything from beginning to end comes together: the whole day or week is offered to God in a singular way, and when his grace to do what we need to do for that day or week is received. 

Praying in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, both at Exposition as well as in the tabernacle, is a beautiful reminder and extension of that “source and summit” experience of Mass. It is an extension of it that allows for prolonged meditative or vocal prayer that can join this source and summit to the particular practices of each person that kindle his or her devotion to God. There is a freedom to this prayer that allows each person to grow in love of God according to the movements of grace that he is giving to an individual soul at a particular time or place. It allows us to join our own personal devotion and meditation to the Eucharist, and that’s what makes it so beautiful to me.

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“It is in Eucharistic adoration that He leads and inspires me”

Fr. Michael Churchill

I have absolutely received healing and transformation in and through the Blessed Sacrament. I was in Nursing school at a small Catholic University when the idea of priesthood was presented to me as a real option. I was living partly in the world but I truly desired to live for God, but I had also always dreamt of getting married and raising a large family. I began going to Eucharistic adoration at the perpetual adoration chapel frequently with great frustration and distress. I just wanted the Lord to tell me what He wanted me to do, and I would do it. Over the weeks, months and years as I continued to go, I started to let go of the question, and I began to enjoy the quiet and the solitude. My heart slowly began to be filled with the peace of Christ as I began to fall deeply in love with Him. In those frequent encounters with the Lord in the stillness, I began to realize the Lord would not tell me straight away whether to get married and start a family or to be a priest. But I did realize Jesus Christ Himself, present in the Blessed Sacrament, was inviting me to follow Him with my whole heart and life. 

I typically begin my day with Jesus Christ in Eucharistic adoration. It is a very precious and sacred time to be with the Lord as I offer my heart to Him in all of my thoughts, feelings, and desires, and as I allow Him time to speak His desires and plans for my life and ministry in the silence. It is in Eucharistic adoration that He leads and inspires me how He wants me to lead and feed His flock. It is also the time where I most concretely offer to God the people He has entrusted to my care as I pray for them, offering them to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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“The Eucharist is the place where I encounter our Lord”

Sr. Mary Elisha Glady

The Eucharist provides direction and meaning for my life as I live my relationship with the Lord as a Religious Sister of Mercy of Alma, Michigan. 

Every morning I begin the day by going to our convent chapel and visiting our Lord in the Eucharist. In His presence I renew my desire to love Him through all of my thoughts, words, and actions that day. 

My religious community prays the Liturgy of the Hours in our chapel each day. Praising and worshiping our Lord veiled in the Eucharist reminds me that one day I hope to praise and worship our Lord face-to-face in Heaven for eternity. 

Each day I have the privilege of attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I offer myself with our Lord to the Father in the Eucharistic prayers. Receiving Holy Communion strengthens me to live my offering to the Father in all of my thoughts, words, actions, and work of that day. Every evening during our community Holy Hour I share with the Lord the joys and concerns from the day. His loving presence reminds me why I do what I do each day and deepens my desire to serve and follow Him. 

Our day closes by praying Compline, the last hour in the Liturgy of the Hours. In this prayer, I thank the Lord for His blessings that day and I ask for His continued blessing. For me, the Eucharist is the place where I encounter our Lord and live my spousal relationship with Him. It is a gift for which my heart swells with gratitude.

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“God is much more interested in your life than you think”

Thomas Osten

My name is Tom Osten and I am a life-long Catholic, married to my wife for 36 years, and have three grown children. 

The Holy Spirit took charge of my life in 2015. That is the year I signed up for one hour per week in front of Jesus in our adoration chapel. Once I committed one hour with Jesus, He activated the dormant Gifts of the Holy Spirit within me. Gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. Once that happened, every part of my life got better. My marriage, my job, my stress. Everything. 

Most importantly, my Faith got better. A lot better. In fact, it took off like a rocket-ship! Within three years, the Holy Spirit filled my life with amazing graces and activities. 

I attended and led many Life in the Spirit Seminars (thanks to my wife) and joined a Lumen Christi Charismatic Prayer Group. I began distributing Holy Communion at St. Mary’s Hospital and volunteered at the yearly Steubenville Conferences. I was able to Sponsor some RCIA candidates, serve as chair-person for our Perpetual Adoration Committee, and joined our Diocesan Lay Formation group. I have witnessed our two sons’ growing faith and watched our daughter join the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus as a religious sister. 

Here are a few short instances where the Holy Spirit has miraculously showed up in my life over the last 5 years: 

On an airplane, I felt a deep distress while reading 1 Corinthians 13, for not really loving my fellow man. Then a stranger a few seats in front of me turned around and handed me a handwritten bookmark that said, “Don’t worry, God is Love!” Since that time I’ve been led by the Holy Spirit to prayer with others and have had some incredible experiences confirmed. 

I prayed over a stranger for her pancreatic cancer and told her that we would meet again only to be surprised with an encounter meeting her and her family in an empty parking lot 200 miles away. 

I was led to pray over someone who needed a heart transplant and stopped mid-prayer to ask her if sunflowers meant anything to her. I watched her break down in tears as she showed me her phone screen-saver with a big bright sunflower on it. 

How can these things happen during prayer? The answer is God is much more interested in your life than you think. Through prayer, I’ve learned to be vulnerable and take small steps forward. Worshiping in front of the Blessed Sacrament, giving thanks and calling upon the Holy Spirit with expectant faith brings adventure.

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