Our three care homes in the UK celebrated the 27th World Day of the Sick with prayers, hymns and reflecting on the message of Pope Francis for the occasion.
On 9th February, six sisters and six residents celebrated the World Day of Prayer for the Sick with a special Mass at Westminster Cathedral. The Mass in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes was celebrated by Cardinal Nichols and several priests from the dioceses. The Cathedral was full and there were many sick and elderly people. We all had the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of the sick, which can be received several times in our lifetime as it heals our bodies and spirit if it is God’s will, but if not, it assures that everyone is filled with the Lord’s peace and love.
In his Letter for the occasion, Pope Francis reminded us of those words from the Gospel of Mt 10,8 “You received without payment; give without payment”. “These are the words spoken by Jesus when sending forth his apostles to spread the Gospel and heal the sick so that his Kingdom might grow through acts of gratuitous love.
Two days later, we had a lovely morning celebrating the occasion at St Teresa’s. Sr Tomasa welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming. She said an introducing prayer and also spoke about the importance of this worldwide celebration. She emphasised how important the day is for the sisters as it is very much in the Sisters Hospitallers charisma. We are in communion with many other health ministries and also many world-known figures such as Mother Theresa, our founders, etc. We heard passages from the Pope’s letter addressed to all those who participate or work in care and also to those in need of care. We also sang hymns and songs – “Whatsoever you do”, “Immaculate Mary” and ended the service with a thanksgiving prayer, asking for God’s guidance and strength to be able to help all those who need us. The celebration was completed on a positive note with smiles and a glass of sherry.
On 11th February, we gathered in the residents’ lounge to honour XVIII World Day of the Sick. Our Service began with Hymn ‘Bind Us Together Lord’ followed by the Pope’s Message. Hymn ‘What so ever you do’ was sung and the reading of the Good Samaritan was read. Sr Margaret then talked about the meaning behind the reading and how the Good Samaritan helped the sick person on the roadside and had not simply walked by as the others had done. Bidding Prayers were also said for the sick and needy locally and everywhere ending with the ‘Our Father,’ with our final Hymn ‘Immaculate Mary’ bringing this very nice and fitting Service to an end. With many thanks to Sr Margaret for all her efforts in preparing today’s Service.
As a yearly event, the Message of Pope Francis was the theme for the celebration. “You received without payment; give without payment” (Mt.10:8). This year the XXVII World Day of the Sick was solemnly celebrated in Calcutta, India. To create awareness of the celebration, a banner was exposed in the residents’ lounge.
The number of residents, families, staff and sisters attending the service was very encouraging. We started with a brief introduction about Our Lady of Lourdes. On 11th February 1858, a 14-year-old girl named Bernadette Salubrious witnessed the first vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary at a grotto near Lourdes, near the Pyrenees in France. The first apparition occurred when Bernadette was gathering wood with her sister and a friend. This place has become the pilgrimage site of Lourdes ever since, it is visited by millions of people who seek healing at all levels.
The Message of the Pope was read by residents, staff and sisters followed by shared and practical comments. The service was concluded with a prayer from Pope Francis entrusting us all to Mary, “Salus Infirmorum”. Then, a Reverend Father, who is also a resident at our care home, blessed us all. It was a very powerful service. A day to remember!