Catholic Astronaut Had Communion During a Spacewalk

How a Catholic astronaut took the Eucharist in outer space.

Mike Hopkins, an astronaut and recent Catholic convert, received the Eucharist while in space.[/tweetit] He is an accomplished spaceman, who spent six months holed up on International Space Station in 2013. The Catholic church welcomed him barely a year before the mission. Hopkins' children and wife are Catholic from birth while he was a Methodist. According to him, he gravitated towards Catholicism after he sensed something “missing” from his life.

Catholic Astronaut Had Communion During a Spacewalk.[/tweetthis]

Hopkins' journey towards Catholicism started when he met Julie, his would-be wife, in college. He started dating her and learned she was a Catholic. He was a non-practicing Methodist at that time. Since they got married in a Catholic church, they both agreed to raise their children in the Catholic fold. The religiosity was there to make sure that their kids have a relationship with God. The relationship does not necessarily imply a narrow religious sense like Catholic, Methodist or Protestant. It follows that the family regularly went to a Catholic church. The kids were baptized into Catholicism.

In 2009, Hopkins got selected on to the astronaut program. This was a dream for him and the family moved to Houston where they became members of the Mary Queen Catholic Church located in Friendswood, a local parish. At that time, he was not a Catholic. Although he accompanied his wife and children to church, there was no participation in the Communion as he was then still a Methodist. It also was the time he felt something was missing in his life. Hopkins was also in Russia at that time, preparing for his space mission. His initiation into Catholicism was done by Father Skip Negley, the priest at his local church. They met when he occasionally came to the United States.

The problem was Hopkins has to take Communion, and he will be in space at that time. It is not a practice to self-administer Communion. After conferring with his priest friends, a solution was found. He was to take with him a small pyx and six wafers. Each wafer will be cut into four pieces, enabling him to have 24 opportunities for receiving Communion. He then took the Eucharist into space and was able to enjoy Communion almost every week. He also imparted himself Communion during a spacewalk.


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