For the Pastoral Care of the Sick

Jul 3, 2024 | Blog Articles

I am a priest and a pastor of a parish. One of the things that means is that I anoint a lot of people. Parishioners who are having surgery might ask me to anoint them after a Sunday Mass. A person recently diagnosed with cancer, asks to be anointed. Family members call the sacramental emergency line when a loved one is close to death, hoping that they will receive the anointing of the sick, and the last rites that accompany it (litany of the saints, commendation of the dying, and the apostolic pardon). 

As a pastor, there have been times that I joyfully rush off to anoint someone and regretfully, sometimes I do so begrudgingly. The writings of an Irish Jesuit priest, who was a military chaplain during World War One, Fr. Willy Doyle, who has a cause for sainthood, has challenged that begrudging mindset I’ve had. In his writings, Fr. Doyle related the immense peace his presence as a priest brought to a dying person on the battlefield, as he absolved, anointed, and entrusted that dying soul to the Lord. The sacrament of anointing is a grace and gift for those who receive it. 

As a priest, I have seen the power of the sacrament. It is not a sacrament just for the hour of death, but for times of sickness too. The Lord Jesus who healed many sick people, is the one who heals through the conferral of the sacrament by the priest in persona Christi. I’ve seen a person at the hour of death make a full recovery after being anointed. A person with a rare terminal cancer continued to defy his life expectancy. The sacrament communicates Christ’s grace of healing and comfort. 

This month, as we pray with the Holy Father for the pastoral care of the sick, let us pray for a renewal of priests who administer the sacrament, the sick who receive it, and their families who accompany them through their illness to healing or from earthly life to heavenly life.  

Fr. Edward Looney

Priest of the Diocese of Green Bay, author, podcaster, and Marian theologian. 

Fr. Edward Looney

Fr. Edward Looney is a priest of the Diocese of Green Bay, a Marian theologian, host of the podcast How They Love Mary, and author of several books. He currently serves as vice-president of the Mariological Society of America.


The Pope’s Official Prayer Network

We pray that the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick confer to those who receive it and their loved ones the power of the Lord and become ever more a visible sign of compassion and hope for all