Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 5, 2007
Our health care workers are today's Good Samaritans
By STEVE HILL
Special to the WCR
The Feb. 11 celebration of the World Day of the Sick has a rich history.
In 1858, near a village in southern France called Lourdes, Mary, the Mother of God, appeared to a peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous. Mary told Bernadette to drink the water flowing in the grotto. As people experienced the healing power of the water, Lourdes became a famous shrine, attracting pilgrims from around the world. We celebrate this mystery as the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Day of the Sick
In 1992, Pope John Paul II also designated today as World Day of the Sick. For those who are ill, this provides a special occasion to recall God's presence in the midst of suffering.
We never lose our dignity and value. God is always with us offering comfort and hope. For health care workers, this is a special occasion to reflect on the profound significance of the service they provide.
The archbishop of Quebec, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, issued the following statement to mark World Day of the Sick, 2007: "Allow me to express my sincere appreciation to all who work in health care facilities, the people who are at the service of the sick, the volunteers, the pastoral workers, the support staff as well as the family members.
"By your presence and your work, you improve the quality of life of the sick and contribute to make our world more humane."
On this day in 2005, the Canadian Catholic Bishops published a pastoral letter entitled, Let Us Go Forward in Hope. The bishops recall with gratitude the many pioneers - especially the religious sisters - of Catholic health care in Canada.
Care for others
Just as they were the good Samaritans who once cared for the sick and who left us a rich legacy of compassionate health care, we are reminded today that care for the sick is essential to the life of every Christian. Caring for others involves all of us, not just professionals.
What practical implications does today's feast and Gospel have for us? In our thoughts, prayers, decisions and actions, we are called to provide compassionate care for those who are sick and dying.
(Steve Hill is director of mission for the Alberta Catholic Health Corporation.)