Mike Hopkins was raised in a Protestant family, but married a Catholic woman. Though they were raising their two daughters as Catholics, he wasn’t sure it was for him right away, until he said he “felt that something was missing in my life.”
After a period of discernment, he eventually joined RCIA and was received into full communion in the Catholic Church. But that raised a question for him when he was sent to the International Space Station as an astronaut in 2013 for 24 weeks: how would he receive the Sacraments?
He couldn’t celebrate Mass or do Reconciliation without a priest. But he would be able to receive the Eucharist if he took consecrated host with him to space.
With the help of his pastor, Fr. James H. Kaczynski of the St. Mary Church in Texas, he got special permission from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to carry 6 consecrated hosts (which can be split into 4 pieces each) in a pyx into space to consume once a week while on the International Space Station.
This was great comfort to Hopkins. “Those events can be stressful,” Hopkins told Catholic News Service about his work in space. “Knowing Jesus was with me when I stepped out the door into the vacuum of space was important to me.”
The view of the Earth that he got from space also had a deep impact on his faith: “When you see the Earth from that vantage point and see all the natural beauty that exists, it’s hard not to sit there and realize there has to be a higher power that has made this.”