Pastoral Care of the Sick and Dying

Pastoral Care of the Sick and Dying

One of the Corporal Works of Mercy is to Visit the Sick.  The Pastoral Care for the Sick that a parish provides for parishioners, is personalized to the particular needs of the person receiving this ministry.  To a homebound person, it may mean the regular reception of Holy Communion during a pastoral visit.  For a person who is preparing for a medical procedure or recovering from a serious illness, the sacrament (anointing) of the sick would be the pastoral care needed.  To the dying, Viaticum, (a person’s last reception of Holy Communion) the sacrament of penance and anointing would be the most pastoral response their needs.   

Unlike what was once referred to as the Last Rites or Extreme Unction (which could include anointing, in addition to Viaticum - last holy communion), the Sacrament of the Sick, is celebrated in a number of different stages of a person’s life. There are a number of reasons one might be anointed in their life: terminal Illness, chronic illness, chronic psychological or psychiatric conditions, in preparation for a medical procedure or surgery, those who are elderly or in poor health, and yes the dying. 

In light of this, Our Lady of the Assumption seeks to provide for the pastoral care of the sick and the dying in a number of different ways appropriate to a person’s particular needs. 

We continue to celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick for those who wish to receive it following the 4:30 PM Mass on the first Saturday of the month.  In addition to that particular time, we welcome anyone to ask one of the priests after any Mass if they want to be anointed, especially in preparation for a medical procedure or surgery. 

As always, we will make every effort to continue to go to the homes of the home-bound for a pastoral visit with Holy Communion. Please call the office to make arrangements.  Pastoral visits with Holy Communion to the homebound are usually made by the generous ministry of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. 

Preparing for the death of a loved one is often a difficult and confusing time in the life of a family.  To assure we are able to provide timely and comforting pastoral care for the dying and their family, we encourage the family to call us to arrangement for Viaticum and the Anointing of the Sick as soon a person begins hospice care, or know that a person is terminal.  The Sacraments are far more comforting to the person, if they are lucid and alert.  Arranging earlier than later gives the dying person and their families the peace, solace and assurance that he or she has received the sacraments, while they are still alert and able to take communion, where they have felt the laying of hands and anointing and heard the prayers recited and joined in the common prayers.  We want to make every effort to respond to the pastoral needs of the dying, therefore to insure that these needs are met we encourage you not to wait until the last movements of life to call for the priest.  This way we can all be assured that your loved one receives the pastoral care and sacraments of the church before death.  If a person has already died, the Prayers after Death are the appropriate pastoral response and can be done by a priest, deacon or lay minister.

 

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