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  • One day in 1951, Sister Virginia (the sacristan and housekeeper) fell against the marble communion rail in the hospital chapel and it collapsed in a heap of dust and smoke. We couldn’t afford to replace it and Father Riley asked the diocesan chancellor for permission to use a small communion table instead. He said it was for infirm and elderly patients who couldn’t kneel, and received approval. We never knew if the bishop himself approved. We knew Father Riley did it for the nurses. We could walk right up and receive communion standing. It was absolutely new. Quite an innovation.

    This story based on material in the oral history of Father Patrick Riley, chaplain at St. Cloud Hospital in St. Joseph, Minnesota in the 1950s.

    photo: Sisters praying in the St. Cloud Hospital Chapel, courtesy of the Archives of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn.
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