One of the important tasks in a parish is the pastoral care of the sick and dying. This is accomplished through our prayer for them at Mass, homebound visitors, visits to the hospital and the Anointing of the Sick. It is interesting that during the Chrism Mass held at the Cathedral during Holy Week, the oil used to bless the sick is blessed by the bishop during the Eucharistic prayer. This is significant because it highlights the fact that we are united in a special way to the sick, even though they cannot be with us physi- cally at the Table. It is also why we offer a blessing at Mass to the volunteers bringing the eucharist to the homebound.
I am very grateful to all the volunteers who weekly bring the Body of Christ to those who cannot join us at the Table. This reminds our brothers and sisters that we are still thinking of them and value them as members of our family of faith. Occasionally, I discover someone who is unable to leave their home and do not have such visits. Please do not hesitate to contact the parish office if you or a family member are unable to leave your home due to infirmity and are interested in receiving the Eucharist. I will make an initial visit and then pass along the contact information to our homebound visitors.
Also, please keep in mind “Last Rites” are more of a creation of Hollywood than what we believe as Catholics. The sacrament is meant to be celebrated with those who are seriously ill to give them the strength of faith they need to persevere in faith, hope and love. By not celebrating this sacrament until the last possible minute, the sick person is deprived of a valuable spiritual tool in their suffering and there is always the risk of a priest not being available right away. The Sacrament may be received by anyone facing a serious illness, operation or old age. I will be offering the sacrament to the nursing home residents every six months. Also, I will be looking at adding a regular celebration of the sacrament to our parish schedule. If you are going in for a procedure, surgery or hospitalization or going into hospice care, please call the office so that I can be sure to offer you the anointing and provide the support that will be needed.
Also, if you or a family member is hospitalized, please let me know so that I may keep you in my daily prayers and perhaps make a visit. I tried a few weeks ago to do some visits at one of the hospitals nearby, but could not get a list of parishioners from St. John’s. I want to be sure that we are doing everything we can as a family of faith to support each of our members.