Invitations from others encouraged Paynesville parishioner’s love of the Eucharist

For Kim Flannigan, faith has always been a “journey of the heart.” She attends daily Mass, brings Communion to the homebound and coordinates the eucharistic adoration schedule for the parish, filling in whenever needed.

But her life wasn’t always this focused on faith.

Photos by Dianne Towlaski / The Central Minnesota Catholic

“I think that Jesus has really worked on my heart through these many years,” said Kim, a member of St. Louis Parish in Paynesville. “Years ago, I would not have been somebody that you would have even thought would have a love for the Eucharist. I’ve been the farthest thing from that, and that’s OK. Once you let him in, Jesus can do great things within you and bring out so much more than you even knew was possible.”

A lifelong Catholic, Kim said her journey really began when a family member introduced her to the story of Our Lady of Fatima and she became interested in Marian devotions.

“I dug deeper into the Marian apparitions and started wanting more knowledge of my Catholic faith,” she said. “I was drawn to daily Mass and Sunday Mass. Sunday Mass became the priority it should be.”

She started by spending time simply sitting in the dark, quiet church. While her son went to physical therapy appointments at the hospital, she began going to the church to pray rather than sitting in the waiting room. It started as a half hour at a time and then became a full hour.

“I think everybody should experience coming in when the church is dark and quiet, and just sit there in his presence,” she said. “You can’t be in his presence and not be affected.”

When the day of the week for her son’s appointments changed, it just happened to be on the day the parish had 24-hour adoration. She had never been to adoration, so she tried it.

Kim Flannigan visits with homebound parishion ers and takes Communion to them every other week. Here, she gives Communion to Joyce Mackedanz at her home in Paynesville April 2.

“Eucharistic adoration became another hand Jesus was offering me to draw me into a deeper relationship with him,” she said. “Adoration gave me the time to understand and fall in love with my Catholic faith, lose my fear of the sacrament of reconciliation, get to know Jesus and myself and learn to trust him in all things.”

Shortly after, she was invited to sign up for a weekly holy hour. As a mom of six and grandmother of 12, Kim’s days are packed. But her nights were available. She began with a 2 a.m. hour and then started taking hours throughout the night that were difficult to fill.

Eventually, in what Kim describes as a “God moment,” she was invited to be a part of the adoration committee at St. Louis. At the time, Kim’s parish in Regal had closed, and she was relatively new to the parish. It was hard for her to grasp that people she didn’t know very well would invite her to do this. When the coordinator of the committee stepped down, Kim received an invitation to step into the role.

“Being invited, especially if it’s something you were already thinking about, makes a big difference,” she said. “You might not do something because you think you can’t, but if you’re invited and someone else thinks you can do it, you might try it.”

Because Kim has been so welcomed into the community at St. Louis, she said she has begun to invite others to participate.

“Most of us were new to adoration when we became members of St. Louis some 15 years ago. My daughter, younger sons, daughter and son-in-law, sisters, sister and brother-in-law and nieces have been or are currently adorers,” she said. “It’s been great to see how taking time for Jesus has touched so many lives within my family.”

Kim also shares her love of the Eucharist through her ministry with the homebound. She typically brings Holy Communion to people’s homes every other week.

“I’ve been touched by the love for the Eucharist in my fellow parishioners through our homebound ministry,” she said. “To have such a love and desire for the Eucharist that you open your home to someone you may not know is very humbling and inspiring.”

The friendships she has developed through weekly visits and conversations have touched her heart in profound ways, she said, and she remembers conversations and moments from years ago that will always stay with her.

“I just think it’s a [sad] thing if somebody is at home and nobody brings them Communion,” she said. “I want them to have that same love, joy and longing and to have that sense of being satisfied.”

For Kim, spending time in adoration has helped her to listen to God’s voice and to be able to take that joy out into the world — whether with her family or with those she encounters in other ways.

“I hope my family and others can see my love for the Eucharist radiate the very love and mercy of our God.”

Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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