Posted on 16 February 2016
By Michelle Davis
On the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on 11 February, more than 450 people gathered in St Patrick’s Church at Blacktown for the 2nd annual diocesan Mass for World Day of the Sick.
For this year’s World Day of the Sick theme, Pope Francis chose: Entrusting Oneself to the Merciful Jesus like Mary: ‘Do whatever he tells you’ (Jn 2:5).
The principal celebrant was Mons John Boyle, Priest responsible for Health and Chaplaincies within the Diocese of Parramatta. The Mass was concelebrated by Fr Peter Confeggi, Parish Priest of Mary, Queen of the Family Parish who was MC, and 18 priests of the Diocese who assisted with the anointing of the sick.
To view a gallery of photos from the Mass, click here
The international Mass was celebrated in the Holy Land and the homily was given by Archbishop Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.
He said the central theme of Pope Francis’ message for this year’s World Day of the Sick was the need for us to entrust our lives to the Merciful Jesus like Mary did.
He said all of us are called in our different ways to help the person who is suffering and stressed. We must not be intimidated by the fact that we cannot help … in a satisfactory way, in the way that Jesus did.
“The important thing,” he said, “is to go, to be at the side of the person who suffers.”
In his homily, Mons John shared some of his experience as a hospital chaplain and elaborated on the Pope’s theme in his message for the 24th World Day of the Sick in which he said:
“Illness, above all grave illness, always places human existence in crisis and brings with it questions that dig deep. Our first response may at times be one of rebellion: Why has this happened to me? We can feel desperate, thinking that all is lost, that things no longer have meaning …
“In these situations, faith in God is on the one hand tested, yet at the same time can reveal all of its positive resources. Not because faith makes illness, pain, or the questions which they raise, disappear, but because it offers a key by which we can discover the deepest meaning of what we are experiencing; a key that helps us to see how illness can be the way to draw nearer to Jesus who walks at our side, weighed down by the Cross. And this key is given to us by Mary, our Mother, who has known this way at first hand.”
The prayer of the faithful was not only for the sick, their carers and those who work in health care but also for governments; that they continue to understand the importance of chaplaincy and holistic healthcare.
The anointing of the sick was a special point in the Mass and one of the family members present said that, for her, the anointing “was a soothing balm, which will help me carry on caring for my husband”.
She shared how caring could be tiring and stressful but this Mass showed carers are not forgotten. This is the main reason the Diocese initiated this Mass last year: in acknowledgement of the sick, their carers and all who work in health care.
The Member for Parramatta, Dr Geoff Lee, represented the Premier and John Ajaka, Minister for Aging, Disability & Multiculturalism.
Catholic organisations such as Catholic Health Care, St John of God Health Care (Richmond and Hawkesbury), the Ephpheta Centre for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People, St Dominic’s Hostel and our Lady of Consolation Nursing (OLOC) Home were represented.
OLOC Home said their residents appreciated the invitation to the Mass. “I hope and pray that there will be another such event next year and I will certainly make sure we take more residents next time,” they said.
Chaplains from Nepean, Blacktown and Westmead Hospitals, medical and allied healthcare professionals were also present.
The Mass was a gathering of all age groups: 45 students from Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta provided music and singing, 15 students from Patrician Brothers’ College and 15 students from Nagle College at Blacktown supported the sick and aged into the church and assisted Blacktown parishioner Len and her generous crew in serving a light luncheon.
The energy was high and the prayers and anointing were very powerful.
Archbishop Brian Barnes OFM, Archbishop Emeritus of Port Moresby, and Fr Dan Neylan OFM, Franciscans who are residents at Our Lady of Consolation Home, provided great inspiration to the seminarians who were present. The seminarians also assisted with helping the residents safely on to the bus.
Members of St John of God (Patron Saint of the Sick) health care were very generous in providing the aged and sick with a medal of St John of God, which came from Granada in Spain as a memento of the World Day of the Sick Mass.
May the soothing balm of God’s love and mercy continue to radiate to the sick and aged within our parishes and Diocese by the care and love we show.
Please keep Friday 10 February 2017 free and join us for next year’s Mass for World Day of the Sick.
Michelle Davis – Chaplain, Nepean Hospital.