After many years away from the Church, Angie Ducker returned to the faith renewed and eager to be a more faithful, dedicated follower of Jesus. What she didn’t expect was the invitation to become a leader. Initially hesitant, Ducker answered the call to head up Sacred Heart Parish’s Eucharistic Ministry at Tampa General Hospital. She has seen the ministry bear great fruit and grow to include over 60 members who weekly bring the Body of Christ and spiritual comfort to the sick and suffering.
“Sometimes our Catholic faith inspires us to step out of our comfort zone and live the Gospel courageously. Eucharistic Ministry at Tampa General Hospital was one such step for me,” said Ducker. “I was scared to say the least because being a convert and then again a ‘revert,’ this was not in my plans. But today I am glad I accepted this challenge. It is quite rewarding knowing you provide spiritual comfort to the sick-especially at a time when they need the strength and comfort of the Lord. Through our smiles, prayers before Holy Communion, a light touch, and of course the Eucharist, I know we are a vessel of the Lord’s comfort and peace.”
Bringing the Body of Christ to others is not a responsibility that Ducker takes lightly.
“Each and every time I approach the altar after the Sign of Peace, I realize the magnitude and responsibility of being a Eucharistic Minister,” said Ducker. “I am so truly grateful for this privilege. I’m also humbled. I look into the eyes of each and every person receiving the Eucharist and an absolute joy fills my own heart and soul when I prayerfully say, ‘The Body of Christ’ or ‘The Blood of Christ.’
She emphasizes that the ministries at the parish are able to extend God’s love and mercy because of the comradery and teamwork of the men and women who work together for a cause and goal.
“It’s the love we share for what we do. The teams I work with are the glue that binds our efforts in courageously living the gospel,” said Ducker.
Ducker is also involved in the Altar Server, Hospitality and Event Planning Ministry, serves on the Liturgical Environment Committee and has been an RCIA sponsor for five years. She is grateful to give back to a community that has done so much for her.
“After the passing of my husband, I found myself yearning for something more in my life, a closer walk with Christ. I discovered Sacred Heart Church and immediately felt this joyful community of churchgoers, welcoming friars and the invitation to participate – better stated, a sense of belonging,” said Ducker.
For 159 years, Sacred Heart Parish, located in the heart of downtown Tampa, has drawn in the faithful, visitors, and professionals to experience the love of God and grow in faith. The parish is a welcoming presence to all who enter its doors, but rapid growth of the downtown area is proving to be a challenge for the parish that already serves 2500 households from 150 different zip codes, without parish parking and limited meeting space downtown.
“It is estimated that within 5 years there will be an additional 25,000 residents within 1.5 miles of the church. The parish developed a vision to sustain the current parishioners and provide a welcome and connection to the wave of households coming our way,” explained pastor, Father George Corrigan, O.F.M.
The answer: North Campus, or “True North.” Just two miles north of the church is the former Sacred Heart Academy, sitting on 9.5 acres of land. Though the buildings may need some updating, it is the ideal place to support new and expanded ministries, strengthen outreach to the larger community, and provide a gathering place for families and youth to continue to build up a growing community of faith. Many events are already held there and around Thanksgiving the smell of a special turkey dinner will fill the halls as the Hands of Hope Ministry prepares a holiday meal for the city’s homeless population.
“A lot of what is going in the parish can be described as ‘rewiring the house while keeping the lights on,’” said Father Corrigan. “We continue with our worship, ministry, and community – we live our mission even as we build our future.”
With this mission, future generations will have the chance, like Ducker did, to meet Christ within the walls of Sacred Heart and be inspired to live with courageous faith.
“I truly believe that we are given opportunities to share our faith by our actions in our daily lives,” said Ducker. “We serve Christ when we serve others and share of ourselves with others.”
Angie Ducker is a 2019 St. Jude the Apostle Award Honoree.