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Ministry to the Sick

Ministry to the Sick during Covid-19

Any kind of ministry to the sick over the past few months has required ingenuity within the guidelines.  We have heard of parishes delivering newsletters, phoning parishioners, or delivering shopping.  At a gathering of ministers to the sick on January 30th we were challenged by Deacon Jim Hannigan (Catholic Chaplain at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital) to continue that ingenuity into the future, in particular broadening our ministry to the families of the sick and dying, and to the staff in hospitals and nursing homes.  We have opportunities to encourage families to pray in their time of need, especially if they may not have done so for years.  There may even be opportunities to bring people back to Mass.

We shared that people’s understanding of the sacraments at the end of life can date back 60 or 70 years, and may even be influenced by what they’ve seen on TV.  There is some helpful information here:     If a priest cannot visit, there are prayers provided by the Liturgy Office which may be of help:

Mgr Kevin McGinnell shared with us the new guidelines for taking communion to the sick, however this is not possible under current regulations, or until people are able to go into other people’s homes.  The guidelines can be downloaded here, but may need to be tweaked in the future if national guidelines change:  8A. PASTORAL CARE of the SICK Holy Communion.

Finally, we picked up Deacon Jim’s challenge to be creative and decided to try two new gatherings:

  1. A quarterly zoom gathering of all involved in ministry to the sick, to keep up to date and keep each other in prayer.  Next meeting 24th April, 11-12noon.
  2. A diocesan live-streamed Mass for the sick on 24th April, 3pm.  More details coming soon.


Christ in this Place – Training for Ministry with the Sick Nov 2019

On 9th November 2019 we had a day jointly with the SVP called Christ in this Place to reflect on ministry to the sick. The day was attended by Eucharistic Ministers, SVP members and hospital chaplaincy volunteers and our input included the Healing Ministry of Christ, practical tips on visiting the sick, safeguarding the elderly, and praying with people with dementia. Many people asked for the powerpoint and handouts from the day so that they could be shared more widely. Our speakers have very kindly given permission for their work to be shared.

Here also is an introduction to prayer and sacraments for the sick and at the end of life. This causes a lot of confusion, especially in hospitals, and most Catholics don’t know some of this detail. Test your knowledge!