By Mary Ellen Johnston
Within my responsibilities as Director of Care Ministries, I help coordinate the visits by our three priests to the sick and dying. Father Bernie, Father Joji and Father Rodolfo administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to those who are suffering in our parish.
During his ministry on earth, Jesus was concerned for the sick. He healed people with his word and compassionate touch. The anointing of the sick continues the work of Jesus and is administered by our priests to bring spiritual and even physical strength to parishioners during an illness, especially near the time of death. This sacrament conveys several graces and imparts gifts of strengthening in the Holy Spirit against anxiety, discouragement, temptation, and conveys peace and fortitude; also, it provides the forgiveness of sins, if a parishioner was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of penance. We pray that this sacrament helps people face the difficulties of illness and age with faith and hope. This sacrament sometimes allows medical treatments to be more effective; and sometimes it helps people face death calmly and with hope.
The oil of the sick is a special oil that we use for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Our olive oil was recently blessed by Cardinal Cupich at the Chrism Mass held at Holy Name Cathedral during Holy Week. Commonly abbreviated O.I. (oleum infirmorum, oil of the sick).
For a sick, elderly or dying person, the touch of another person in the ritual of the laying on of the hands intends to communicate comfort, care and concern. The priest lays his hands upon the person and silently prays.
While this sacrament is often administered individually, the church encourages celebrating it communally within Mass. The communal celebration reminds us that suffering is part of our human condition and may move us to look at each other more compassionately. It also helps us unite our sufferings with Christ’s as we recall his body broken and his blood poured out for us. Here at Saint Anne, all are welcome to receive this sacrament, especially those who are sick or suffering in mind, body or spirit. Anointing is available after the 8:15 a.m. morning Mass on the First Friday of every month. This sacrament may be received more than once, such as when a sick person’s condition worsens.
I strongly recommend that you have honest conversations with your family members and encourage them to be open to receiving this sacrament. For parishioners who are homebound, the ideal time to receive an anointing is when your family is present, and not necessarily in the final hours of life.
For those parishioners who are in the end-of-life stage or in hospice care, family members should contact our office immediately to have their loved one anointed as a priest may not be available on short notice prior to death.
If you know of someone in need of receiving the Sacrament of Anointing, please contact Mary Ellen Johnston at 773.456.6664 or email@example.com to schedule a visit by one of our parish priests.