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February 7, 2018

Church marks World Day of the Sick Feb. 11; local parish to hold service

WORLD
By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Father Henry Dorsch, pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Southwick, gives the sacrament of the sick to a woman at last year’s Service of Healing and Anointing at Sacred Heart Church in Feeding Hills. (IObserve file photo/Julie Beaulieu)

 

 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church’s care for the sick, especially through Catholic-run hospitals, is an antidote to “the business mentality that is seeking worldwide to turn health care into a profit-making enterprise,” Pope Francis said.

In his message for World Day of the Sick, Feb. 11, the pope urged Catholics individually and as a community to continue to provide loving care for the sick.

Local healing service

Locally, Sacred Heart Parish in Feeding Hills will host its annual Service of Healing and Anointing, to pray for those who are sick and suffering in any way, this Sunday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. The sacrament of the sick will be available, as well as the opportunity to be prayed over by one of the deacons or priests who will be present. Following the Mass, there will be a reception in the handicapped accessible parish center.

A religious sister is seen comforting a sick woman in 2016 at Snehadam Old Age Home in Gurgaon, India. (CNS photo/courtesy John E. Kozar, CNEWA) 

Instituted in 1992 by Pope St. John Paul II, the church marks the day each year on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and Pope Francis’ message for 2018 had a strong Marian focus, emphasizing the church’s maternal mission to provide for the spiritual and physical needs of all people.

“May our prayers to the Mother of God see us united in an incessant plea that every member of the church may live with love the vocation to serve life and health,” he prayed.

The church’s motherly concern for the sick has been clear throughout its history and continues today, the pope said. “In countries where adequate public health care systems exist, the work of Catholic religious congregations and dioceses and their hospitals is aimed not only at providing quality medical care, but also at putting the human person at the center of the healing process, while carrying out scientific research with full respect for life and for Christian moral values.”

Perhaps more heroically, he said, “in countries where health care systems are inadequate or non-existent, the church seeks to do what she can to improve health, eliminate infant mortality and combat widespread disease.”

“The image of the church as a ‘field hospital’ that welcomes all those wounded by life is a very concrete reality, for in some parts of the world, missionary and diocesan hospitals are the only institutions providing necessary care to the population,” he noted.

Worshippers receive the sacrament of the sick and blessings at a 2014 Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Springfield. (IObserve file photo/David Martin)

In rich and poor countries alike, he said, the church focuses on caring for the sick even when a cure is not possible.

Pope Francis urged Catholic health care institutions and individual doctors, nurses and staff members to remember the church’s tradition of generous care for the sick and renew their commitment to continuing that kind of loving service.

But especially on the World Day of the Sick, he said, “we cannot forget the tender love and perseverance of many families in caring for their chronically sick or severely disabled children, parents and relatives. The care given within families is an extraordinary witness of love for the human person; it needs to be fittingly acknowledged and supported by suitable policies.”

Also contributing to this story was Rebecca Drake in Springfield, Mass.

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