Malena Catherine Jerge got her wish. She received first Communion at the nursing home where her grandmother has lived all of the 8-year-old girl’s life. As you might guess, Malena was the only first-timer on Sunday at St. Anne’s Salvatorian Campus. Pretty in her white dress and floral headpiece, she approached the chapel’s altar with her parents, John and Amanda, for a host and a sip of wine. Father Al Wagner then walked down to the front row and carefully placed a consecrated wafer in the mouth of Catherine Jerge, who has advanced Alzheimer’s disease and attends Mass in a wheelchair. What was important to Malena was to be not only with her extended family for the big event, but with the even more extended family of residents and staff she has come to love at St. Anne’s, 3800 N. 92nd St. “It really is a big thing for me to get it done by my grandma,” Malena said. “I would still be OK if they said no, but I just really like going to my grandma’s a lot. I almost go there every other day with my dad, and we go almost every Sunday.” Other than a murmur or occasional ouch if something hurts her, Malena has no memory of her grandmother ever saying her name or speaking at all. So Malena holds her hand and looks forward to visiting what she has always called Grammy’s house. “I love my grandma. She’s very old and sick a little bit and almost going to die,” Malena said. “When I was a baby and I was born, my mom would take me there, but they wouldn’t let me in. So she would show me through the window to my grandma.” That was because Malena, who is an only child, was born a preemie and the family’s pediatrician recommended that she avoid large congregations until she was a bit older.
Photo: Michael Sears / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel