By DEACON BARRY MELLISH
Deacon Aidan and I are privileged to be part-time Honorary Chaplains working at the PRUH.
What does a Hospital Chaplain do? The chaplain is there to provide a listening ear, emotional support and spiritual support to patients, relatives and friends, and hospital staff. We provide support during a crisis, as well as during ongoing recovery and support bereaved family members.
It is more than taking Holy Communion to Catholics who are ill in hospital, important as this is.
We pray with patients, listen to them and offer help and comfort; not only to Catholics, but people of all faiths and none.
Recently I was asked to visit a seriously ill man who was accompanied by his wife and daughter. Before I could do or say anything, his poor wife became hysterical and I left at her daughter’s request. The sight of me in clerical dress made the lady think that her husband must be about to die. Not so. I was there to support all of them at a time of need.
The Anointing of the Sick can also be misunderstood. It can only be administered by a bishop or priest. It brings spiritual and physical strength during an illness. This sacrament, can be administered more than once, especially if a person has a chronic illness.
“The special grace of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:
• the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for their good and that of the whole Church
• the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age
• the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of penance
• the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of the soul
• the preparation for passing over to eternal life” (CCC 1532).
Does a person have to be dying to receive this sacrament? No. The Catechism says, “The anointing of the sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death.”
If you or someone you know is going into hospital, please inform the hospital chaplaincy team. You can do this via the parish office. Do not assume that the hospital chaplaincy team is automatically informed, we aren’t!