Our People: Meet Roger Goossens, St. Joseph’s volunteer Eucharistic minister
What do you know about the people you pass in the hall or see in the cafeteria every day? What do they do at St. Joseph’s?
Here we will introduce you to a member of the St. Joseph’s family, recognizing their contribution to respect, excellence and compassion.
Humble, kind, and devoted are words that describe St. Joseph’s volunteer, Roger Goossens. As a Eucharistic minister, Roger provides communion to Catholic patients and residents who are ill or unable to attend Mass at Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care and St. Joseph’s Hospital. He is also responsible for assisting priests, preparing services and altars, as well as helping to maintain the chapels.
“It’s all the volunteers and the entire Spiritual Care team at St. Joseph’s that carry out the amazing work,” he humbly states. “It’s a blessing that I can still play a part at my age. I feel very grateful.”
At 85 years-of-age, Roger shows no signs of slowing down. For more than 40 years – one of St. Joseph’s longest serving volunteers, he also fills in for other Eucharistic ministers when extra help is needed.
“I don’t take anything I do for granted,” adds Rogers. “I am always reminded to be grateful.”
Roger is currently one of 25 volunteer Eucharistic ministers at St. Joseph’s. Volunteer Eucharistic ministers are lay people who go through the regular volunteer orientation as well as additional training through the Catholic Diocese. Interested volunteers must be practicing Roman Catholics with the desire to serve others in a health care setting.
Roger volunteers his time on a weekly basis and his duties range from ensuring the chapels are in impeccable order, preparing scriptures and sacraments and participating in Mass. In addition to distributing communion, Roger also listens to patients and residents who may be in need of spiritual support.
“I feel it’s important for individuals to receive Communion, especially in a health care setting,” says Roger. “People come to Mass, but they also come to pray before a procedure, or pray for a loved receiving care – it’s a time and a place to be with God. I appreciate being able to help provide a comfortable place for everyone to feel welcome.”
Volunteering at St. Joseph’s has provided Roger with a deeper connection to his Catholic faith. Born and raised in Belgium, he began altar serving when he was nine years old. He was later trained by the Jesuits and became a Sacristan, where he served in traditional Latin Masses. A sacristan carefully arranges the liturgical books, the vestments or liturgical garments, and other things necessary in the celebration of the Mass, which greatly assist priests.
Roger immigrated to Canada when he was 19 years-old. He learned to speak English and joined a parish church in London soon after he arrived. It would not take long before priests tapped into his expertise and he soon began assisting and serving alongside them. For more than 30 years, Roger worked at a local manufacturing company and devoted his spare time to his deep rooted faith.
“It doesn’t feel like work,” explains Roger about his service at St. Joseph’s. “Sometimes I don’t want to leave the chapel,” he jokes. “It’s rewarding to do something that brings me closer to God and to give the gift of communion, which means so much to people. I am truly blessed.”
Just for fun
Roger is also gifted with musical talents; in the 1950s he played the button accordion with his band in in numerous clubs across London and surrounding areas. While he doesn’t play as much these days, he still carries a couple of tunes close to his heart.
St. Joseph’s Health Care London is one of Ontario’s leading teaching hospitals, contributing to the advancement of health care, education and research. We are a partner in London’s academic health sciences community. St. Joseph’s is a Catholic health care organization, owned by the St. Joseph’s Health Care Society of the Roman Catholic Diocese of London and governed by a volunteer board of directors representing the community. Our services are publicly funded.