January 6th, 2011 + Feast of St. André Bessette
Throughout the 2000 year history of the Church she has constantly sought to embrace those who are wounded, suffering, and lonely. Modeling the ministry of Christ who cared for the sick, both spiritually and physically, the Church has sought to alleviate suffering while simultaneously proclaiming its redemptive nature. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Col 1:24). In the Holy Father’s homily on the World Day for the Sick in 2010, he spoke of the essential importance of caring for the sick. “The Church, which has been entrusted with the task of prolonging the mission of Christ in space and time, cannot neglect these two essential works: evangelization and care of the sick in body and spirit”.
Throughout the centuries the Church has cared for the sick and provided spiritual nourishment for those who cannot attend Mass due to illness or confinement. Each day priests, religious and lay Pastoral Care Volunteers visit the sick and homebound as an extension of the sacramental life of the Parish, bringing them Holy Communion and assuring them of the constant prayers of the community. Because no parish is exempt from these realities, it is necessary to clearly define the expectations for each parish in their Pastoral and Eucharistic care of the sick and dying.
In 2008 when the Diocese promulgated “Healing Faith” Guidelines for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, it was intended that another document be prepared to address the distribution of Holy Communion to the sick and homebound. A draft of the Policy and Guidelines for Volunteers in the Pastoral and Eucharistic Care of the Sick and Dying was presented to the Presbyteral Council in the October of 2010 and was recommended for approval.
The Policy and Guidelines for Volunteers in the Pastoral and Eucharistic Care of the Sick and Dying seeks to clarify the expectations of each parish, and in particular the role and responsibilities of the Pastoral Care Volunteer. It is our hope that this Policy and Guidelines will assist parishes in their care of the sick and the homebound.
Promulgated on January 6, 2011
+Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix Chancellor
Sr. Jean Steffes, C.S.A.