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Sister Sandra Krupp, ASCJ, brought the Eucharist to Ray Farina at his home on April 2. Sister Sandra ministers to homebound St. Ambrose parishioners, bringing them the Eucharist, updating them on parish happenings and visiting with them
Sister Sandra Krupp, ASCJ, brought the Eucharist to Ray Farina at his home on April 2. Sister Sandra ministers to homebound St. Ambrose parishioners, bringing them the Eucharist, updating them on parish happenings and visiting with them
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

The treasures of the Church

Sister Sandra Krupp, ASCJ, brings God’s love, parish community to the homebound

On a gray Tuesday morning, Sister Sandra Krupp, ASCJ, set off on her daily mission.

First stop: Carol Stelzer’s house. She was ready and waiting, for both Sister Sandra and Jesus.

Sister Sandra Krupp, ASCJ, brought the Eucharist to Ann Sanders on April 2 at Sanders’ home in St. Louis.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
The two sat together in Stelzer’s back sitting room, surrounded by family photos of her six children and grandchildren. Sister Sandra and Stelzer go way back — they taught together at St. Ambrose School before Stelzer’s retirement.

“Let’s start with Communion,” Sister Sandra said.

“Jesus, bless Carol during this Easter season. Bless her with your grace, your goodness and your love. Pour your love and grace over her, Lord. Let her know that she’s your beloved daughter, loved totally and unconditionally by you,” Sister Sandra prayed.

Sister Sandra has been visiting Stelzer for about three years. Although Stelzer sometimes makes it to Mass with one of her children, she uses a walker and can no longer drive her because of eye problems.

After Communion, Sister Sandra broke down the latest St. Ambrose Parish news, annotated bulletin in hand, detailing the plans to convert two rooms of the old convent into new classrooms for the growing student body. They discussed the upcoming Divine Mercy Sunday and what it means to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Then, Sister Sandra pulled out her iPad to share photos she captured at St. Ambrose’s recent Triduum services.

Sister Sandra Krupp, ASCJ, prayed with Carolyn Stelzer in Stelzer’s home April 2 in St. Louis. Sister Sandra ministers to homebound of St. Ambrose Parish, bringing them the Eucharist, updating them on parish happenings and visiting with them.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
“I feel so bad that I missed that,” Stelzer said.

“It’s OK, Carol — that’s life. I bring it to you,” Sister Sandra reassured.

The treasures of the Church

When St. Ambrose parishioners can no longer make it to their favorite pew in the church, Sister Sandra brings Jesus to their kitchen tables and living room couches.

She currently has 38 parishioners in her regular rotation, bringing them Communion, the latest parish news, her cheerful company and a listening ear.

“I like when I tease them, and they really get that I’m teasing them,” Sister Sandra said. “And I love it when I know they feel loved and listened to.”

Sister Sandra Krupp, ASCJ, showed pictures from St. Ambrose Parish to Ray Farina on April 2 at Farina’s home in St. Louis County.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Most of the homebound parishioners have children, grandchildren or other relatives in the area who also regularly visit. “But for some of them, I’m the only person they see,” she said.

After her visit with Carol Stelzer, Sister Sandra climbed back into the car, called Ray Farina, and let him know she was on her way. She calls each one of her homebound parishioners on Friday night to confirm her upcoming visit for the week, but she’s learned: the more reminders, the better.

Sister Sandra has been visiting Farina for about six months. Although he’s moved away from the Hill neighborhood to south St. Louis County, Sister Sandra is dedicated to visiting St. Ambrose parishioners regardless of parish boundaries, she said.

Farina settled onto his green velvet couch and bowed his head as he prayed the Our Father with Sister Sandra before receiving Communion. She shared photos of the Easter Vigil, swiping through a gallery to point out the six people who entered the Church that evening.

“The more the better,” Farina said with a smile.

She bid him goodbye with a cheerful “Buona Pasqua” — “Happy Easter” in Italian. “Buona Pasqua, yes, that’s what my mother would say,” he replied.

The Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, founded in 1894 in Viareggio, Italy, take basic Italian classes as part of their formation, Sister Sandra explained. That’s come in handy for Sister Sandra in her ministry at St. Ambrose, a parish with significant Italian population and heritage.

Sister Sandra Krupp, ASCJ, who ministers to homebound of St. Ambrose Parish, read from notes during a visit April 2 in St. Louis.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
In her ministry to the homebound, Sister Sandra often thinks of the story of St. Lawrence, a deacon in the early Church. The Romans demanded that Lawrence bring them the Church’s treasures, imagining priceless items that would bring them wealth. St. Lawrence instead returned with the poor, the lame and the sick, Sister Sandra recounted.

“What I feel is that the elderly and the sick are our church’s treasures,” she said. “Our church would not be what it is today without the people that I’m serving. It’s a privilege to serve these people, because they have spent their life giving to the church, making the church what it is…we need to reverence and give exquisite care to them because of what they’ve done for us.”

The homebound parishioners are eager to stay connected to the parish however they can, listening with interest to the news Sister Sandra brings and staying close to the faith community through prayer.

“They are so faithful to their prayers. I’m a vowed religious, and I’m faithful to my prayers, but they put me to shame. Because they’ll tell me, ‘I have my little pile of prayers here that I must say every morning, and I don’t do anything else until I’ve said my stack of prayers,’” she said.

Another stop that morning took Sister Sandra to Ann Sanders’ kitchen table. As Sister Sandra updated her on the new schedule for the upcoming La Festa parish event, Sanders reminisced about watching bands perform on the church steps. “I used to enjoy La Festa,” she said.

“I’ll take pictures for you,” Sister Sandra assured her.

On her last stop before lunch, Sister Sandra knocked on the door of Serafina Abbate and her daughter Fara Storaci. They are longtime members of St. Ambrose Parish; Storaci attended the school and was married in the church. After a stroke, she now uses a wheelchair and can’t get to Mass as much as she would like. She looks forward to Sister Sandra’s visits and especially appreciates being able to receive the Eucharist at home, she said.

“She’s like family for us,” Storaci said.

‘So much love’

Sister Sandra Krupp, ASCJ, paid a visit to the home of Carolyn Stelzer on April 2 in St. Louis.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Sister Sandra’s ministry “isn’t a one-man show,” she emphasized.

“I have so much support in the parish community,” she said. “I have people making bread, baking cupcakes, wrapping gifts, typing for me, getting donations so we can treat the elderly…people and groups with huge hearts that know how special our elderly parishioners are.”

Her life as a religious sister has brought her to several different ministries. Now, spending her days bringing Jesus to the hidden people of the parish, she’s seen God’s grace at work in a whole new way.

“I feel like I get way more out of this than they do, because they are so loving,” she said. “I am the recipient of so much love — I can’t even tell you. And it’s not because I deserve it. It’s all grace.”

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