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Benedictine Sisters donating 40,000 hosts to flour-strapped Venezuela

Benedictine Sisters donating 40,000 hosts to flour-strapped Venezuela - (12-04-2018)

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Photo: Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Ruth Elaine Starman, OSB, helps package 40,000 donated altar breads bound for Caracas, Venezuela, this month. The country is in the midst of a food shortage, including wheat flour, that has made the production of communion hosts very perilous there.

(CLYDE, Mo.) - Flour.

It’s a simple, everyday staple used in a variety of ways. Most people probably don’t think much about it until it’s time to add it to the grocery list.

But as people in Venezuela have discovered over the past year or more, you may not know what you have until it’s gone.

The Catholic News Agency reported on April 2, 2018, that the country’s food shortage, which includes wheat flour, has led to a lack of available communion hosts - the small, round wafers Catholics and those of many other religious denominations use during Eucharist.

It has become such an epidemic that a neighboring Catholic diocese in Colombia donated hundreds of thousands of hosts, and donations of flour to host-baking religious orders are being sent from overseas.

“Our Sisters celebrate the Eucharist every day and to learn there are people who haven’t been able to participate because there aren’t enough hosts is very sad,” said Sister Ruth Elaine Starman, OSB, a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri. “We knew we had to help. Fortunately, our community is in the position to do so.”

The Benedictine Sisters know a thing or two about making altar bread hosts. They’ve been baking them for over 100 years and are the largest religious producers in the United States. They bake about 9 million hosts every month. They were also the first U.S. order to receive Vatican approval to make low-gluten hosts for those with Celiac Sprue Disease. Their breads are also available for wholesale and sent to other religious communities to repackage and sell to support themselves.

And it’s how the Benedictine Sisters knew they could offer some relief with the host shortage.

“We are packaging 40,000 hosts to donate to the Siervas de Jesús (Servants of Jesus) order in Caracas, Venezuela. There is still a long way to go, but it’s a start,” Sister Ruth Elaine said. “The sisters are very grateful for the offer and looking forward to sharing them with the people who are in need.”

For more information about the Venezuelan altar bread donation, please contact Sister Ruth at (800) 223-2772 or ruth.starman@gmail.com.