Care of the sick and dying

“I was sick and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:36)
Illustration from the “Resurrection window” in Johnstown Church, by Artist George Walsh


Sickness is that time in life when we all inevitably experience the frailty of the body and the vulnerability of the human condition and find ourselves in need of comfort, support and healing. One of the Corporal Works of Mercy is that we would visit the sick. Healing is the gift of God and this healing ministry is shared with many members of the Christian community. The priest in a spiritual way, parents in family life and Christians who share in Christ’s healing ministry in the medical and caring professions at home, in hospital, nursing homes or palliative care.


The healing of Christ is mediated spiritually through the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. This sacrament may be received by anyone whose life or health are compromised by advanced age, serious illness or impending surgery. For the celebration of this sacrament, wherever it takes place, it is desirable that the family gather with the priest to pray for the one who is ill. The priest then places his hand in silence on the forehead of the person who is ill, asking God to give them strength and courage. He then anoints them with the Oil of the Sick, on the forehead and on the palms of both hands, saying:

Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his loving mercy give you the grace of the Holy Spirit and may the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.

Where necessary and if possible, the sick person should make a confession in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and receive absolution. In danger of death, this also includes the Apostolic Pardon, which remits all sins repented of. Depending on the circumstances, the sick person, may then receive Holy Communion. If the person is dying, this is called Viaticum, their final Communion, which is food for the journey to the Kingdom of Heaven.

This sacrament will not automatically bring about the recovery of the sick person, but rather will strength them and dispose them to deal with sickness and suffering in a peaceful, patient and joyful way.

When someone is ill, those responsible for them should not hesitate to contact the priest to come and celebrate these consoling sacraments.

First Friday Calls

For those who are sick or housebound for any reason and unable to participate in person in the liturgical life of the Parish, they may ask the priest to visit them on what is known as the First Friday Calls. The Parish Secretary will arrange with the sick person or their family the best time for this Call.


When in hospital, a person should request the services of the hospital chaplain or a visit from their Parish Priest