WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, NJ – On February 11, 2016, Bishop Dennis Sullivan of the Diocese of Camden toured Kennedy University Hospital and the Kennedy Health Care Center, both located in Washington Township, NJ, in commemoration of the World Day of the Sick.

“As we continue to observe the Jubilee of Mercy, today is an excellent opportunity to live out one of the very important corporal works of mercy, visiting the sick,” said Bishop Sullivan. “Equally, it is important to publically appreciate the great work of doctors, nurses, chaplains, caregivers, volunteers and staff who work so diligently to make the ill in their care comfortable as they undertake the process of healing.”

Bishop Dennis Sullivan has always been a proponent of good germ management and was happy to follow the rules on hand washing while at the hospital.During his visit to the Kennedy campus, Bishop Sullivan met with physicians, nurses, staff and volunteers to thank them for their service to the sick. He also conducted pastoral rounds at the hospital, visiting with patients and their caregivers. He finished the tour with a meet and greet with Kennedy Health Care Center staff and residents.

“Kennedy Health was honored to host Bishop Sullivan on World Day of the Sick,” said Kennedy Health President & CEO Joseph W. Devine. “His visit with our hospital patients, with residents of our long-term care facility, and with various Kennedy staff members was deeply touching and gratefully received by all who had the honor of meeting him on this important day, where we recognize not only those who are ill but those who offer them solace and care.”

Bishop Dennis Sullivan prays with and blesses the residents of Kennedy Health Care Center.The facilities tour was facilitated by VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services, the Diocese of Camden’s healthcare ministry. “As Bishop Sullivan visited patient rooms, one could feel the healing presence of Christ evident in the smiles of those be blessed and spoke with,” said VITALity Executive Director Deacon Gerard Jablonowski. “Both the enthusiasm of the hospital staff and the joyful expressions of the patients made it clearly obvious that the Bishop brought a sense of healing, hope and joy into their lives this day. His visit on this World Day of the Sick, was just another example of Bishop Sullivan showing us the ways of mercy in living out the Corporal Work of Mercy to visit the sick.”

One of VITALity’s most notable benefits is a focus on person-to-person communication. “I am proud of the fine work that our Catholic Chaplains, Associate Chaplains, and Eucharist Ministers do each and every day in all the hospitals throughout South Jersey, in living out this call to mercy, as they make Christ present to those most in need of His healing touch.”

World Day of the Sick, an observation introduced by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1992, encourages the faithful to comfort, visit, and pray for those who are going through the pain and isolation of poor health and illness, as well as those who provide care to them. The day coincides with the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes, the feast day dedicated to Mary’s appearance before Saint Bernadette in Lourdes, France, on February 11, 1858.

This year, observing World Day of the Sick takes on an even greater importance, as the Catholic Church is celebrating the Jubilee of Mercy, a Holy Year focused on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Visiting the Sick is one of the most well-known of the corporal works and a merciful endeavor open to anyone at any time. Earlier this year, Pope Francis noted that “Every hospital and nursing home can be a visible sign and setting in which to promote the culture of encounter and peace, where the experience of illness and suffering, along with professional and fraternal assistance, helps to overcome every limitation and division.”

Story and Photos by Mike Walsh