Saturday, February 11, 2017, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, marked the 25th celebration of World Day of the Sick. On this day, the Universal Church takes time to pray for the sick and for those who serve every day to alleviate their sufferings. Saint Pope John Paul II initiated this day in 1992 to encourage people to pray for those who suffer from illness or disability and for their caregivers.
In order to bring awareness to this special day and promote such prayer, the Diocese of Camden Hospital Chaplaincy Service, as part of VITALity Catholic Healthcare, sponsored and celebrated prayer services throughout all the hospitals of South Jersey. Bringing together patients and their caring nurses, aides and physicians into a forums of prayer and blessing gave renewed hope for healing and a strengthening in the caregivers to further expand their already compassionate hearts into hearts over flowing with love and concern for their patients.
Using this year’s theme as developed by Pope Francis, “Amazement of what God has accomplished: ‘The Almighty has done great things for me’ “. . . (LK 1:49), a message of Mary’s great love and devotion to Jesus would convey the prayers of intercession, through her, to her divine son, Jesus – the great healer.
Bishop Sullivan marked the day by celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation with the young people at the St. John of God Community / Archbishop Damiano School. Young people whose lives are daily filled with the challenges of disability were sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the beauty of the sacrament celebrated at Most Holy Redeemer Church / Holy Angels Parish in Westville Grove.
The Bishop reminded them that the Holy Spirit of the loving God within them brings forth the wonderful gifts He has given to each one of them. Gifts which have so beautifully been nurtured by the love of parents, teachers and caregivers. A special blessing was also offered at the end of the mass by the Bishop with a relic of St. John of God, the patron saint of the sick, of hospitals, and nurses, and the founder of the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God, who today, so dutifully and lovingly serve at the St. John of God Community / Archbishop Damiano School. The students then presented the Bishop with letters personally written by each of them most expressed their gratitude to him for celebrating their confirmation.
World Day of the Sick 2017 was certainly brought alive and lovingly celebrated here in South Jersey as together, with our ill and disabled brothers and sisters we prayed for the gift of hope and healing as we continue to care for those most in need of our compassion and love.
By: Deacon Jerry Jablonowski
Executive Director, VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services
Prayer Services at Cooper Health System in Camden
Prayer service at Inspira Medical Center – Woodbury, with Father Ernest Amadi and hospital volunteers.