Bringing hope to patients is a hallmark of all our volunteers whom we celebrate during National Volunteer Week and every week.
Jesus “Gino” Perez, known affectionately as Mr. Gino, volunteers three times per week at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, bringing more than just hope. He’s been volunteering for more than a decade as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion so he brings the body and blood of Christ to our patients.
An Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is a lay person within the Catholic Church who assists in distributing communion, a central sacrament in the faith. Once the elements of bread and wine are consecrated by a priest, Mr. Gino assists in distributing the Eucharist to patients who are unable to attend Mass.
Routine of a Typical Day
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays mornings Mr. Gino arrives at the hospital at about 8:30, getting the Eucharist and heading to the patient floors to offer the sacrament and pray with patients. He finishes each day’s work by around 10 a.m.
“Usually I go to the sixth floor, oncology, which is my favorite,” Mr. Gino says. “They inspire me. I feel so connected to them and love bringing them hope.”
Mr. Gino is a cancer survivor himself and has been in remission for more than two years from kidney cancer that also spread to his bladder. He’s even given testimony at our hospital’s monthly Healing Mass.
A Life of Service
Mr. Gino first got started as a hospital volunteer by responding to a recruitment announcement in his church’s Sunday bulletin.
In addition to his service at our hospital, Mr. Gino also volunteers monthly with Meals on Wheels with Holy Cross Catholic Church.
After retiring about 20 years ago from his 40-year career as a geologist, Mr. Gino and his wife spend much of their time enjoying their close-knit family with six children.
Mr. Gino prays with the patients when he visits them regardless of whether they want to receive communion. He often shares his favorite prayers: Psalm 127, a prayer for healing; Psalm 138, a prayer of praise; and Anima Christi, a prayer of adoration attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola often recited after receiving Holy Communion.
“The best part of my volunteer work is to feel the presence of Jesus in the host,” Mr. Gino says. “I feel like Jesus is walking into the room and offering his blessing and his healing to those people. And especially sometimes you feel like they have been touched by his presence – so I can feel that.”
Mr. Gino approaches each patient differently, as all patients are unique. “Some are very, very open and I’m willing to listen,” he says. “You put it in the hands of God — I want to be your hands and your ears.”
Advice for Other Volunteers
Mr. Gino recommends others consider volunteering with Our Lady of Lourdes Health and emphasizes the spiritual growth volunteers experience through their service.
“For somebody who is searching it would be an ideal path,” he says. “The pay is low, but the benefits are out of this world.”