A Ministry with History￼ Sisters Margaret Mary andBenedict at our former Rayen Avenue convent, mid 1900s Did you know the Eucharist shared at your parish could come from our Motherhouse? Our Altar Bread Ministry began in 1930, when “Sisters baked and packed the hosts for the churches,” says Sister Dorothy Kundracik, who runs the ministry now. “A long line of Ursuline Sisters have contributed to this service to our parishes,” she adds. Noting that our founder, St. Angela Merici, counseled us to change as necessary — but prudently — with the times, Sister Dorothy says there have been quite a few changes with the Altar Bread Ministry over the years. Since 1985, the Cavanaugh Co. of Greenville, RI has provided the manufacturing, packaging and wholesale supply for religious communities such as ours to continue this service. Also, whole-wheat hosts have mostly replaced the formerly traditional white ones. “Gluten-free hosts have been introduced with much controversy,” she continues, explaining that not all clergy will provide these hosts to their congregations. “But they’re offered with a consideration for the many people who cannot receive the host due to gluten intolerance.” Another change is the number of customers. “Originally we had 70 churches who requested altar breads,” Sister Dorothy says. “Today that number has been reduced by almost half.” A number of parishes have merged and closed, she observes, and the pandemic has reduced demand in the last two years. “But we continue to serve those churches that request hosts from us and look forward to people being able to more readily receive Communion,” Sister Dorothy says. Other changes include increasing postage costs for the altar bread itself, office supplies and postage. “It’s definitely a nonprofit ministry,” she states. Not only do we serve many parishes in the Diocese of Youngstown, which comprises six counties, we also serve some in western Pennsylvania and those for other denominations. “I am grateful to be part of this tradition,” Sister Dorothy says.