2016-03-03 / Community News

Bishop celebrates Mass of the Anointing of the Sick

Right, Bishop Robert P. Deeley traved to St. André Health Care in Biddeford last month for a Mass of the Anointing of the Sick. (Courtesy photo) Right, Bishop Robert P. Deeley traved to St. André Health Care in Biddeford last month for a Mass of the Anointing of the Sick. (Courtesy photo) Pauline Pollock, a resident of Saint André Health Care in Biddeford, was one of about 100 residents, family members and staff who filled the community center at the facility for a Mass of the Anointing of the Sick, celebrated by Bishop Robert P. Deeley, on Sunday, Feb. 21. The gathering was so large that it spilled into an adjoining corridor.

“It was such an awesome thing to happen. It gave me goosebumps. It was such a wonderful feeling,” Pollock said.

The anointing of the sick is administered to individuals suffering from deteriorating physical, emotional or mental illness. It is also administered to those experiencing a sudden medical crisis or scheduled for surgery, even routine procedures. In addition, the sacrament is appropriate for elderly weakened by advanced age or suffering from chronic or long-term illnesses. Anyone struggling or recovering from alcoholism or other addictions can also be anointed, as can individuals being treated with chemotherapy, radiation or physical therapies.

“In this sacrament that you receive today, Jesus comes to be with you, to strengthen you from whatever weakness you are experiencing or whatever illness you are dealing with,” Deeley said. “He comes to be present to you, as you are to one another, to remind you that God cares for you and that He loves you.”

During the Mass, those gathered joined in praying that God would relieve the pain of all who are aged, ailing or alone. Prayers were also offered for all whose vocation is to care for the sick. Following the prayers, the bishop and Monsignor Andrew Dubois, moderator of the curia for the diocese, walked among the people, laying hands on each who wanted to receive the sacrament. The bishop then prayed over the holy oil, asking God to “ease the sufferings and comfort the weakness of your servants.” He and Dubois then, again, walked among the people anointing their foreheads and hands.

“God speaks to us in this sacrament and tells us to listen to the Lord Jesus and to do what he says,” Deeley said. “He speaks to us not only in word but in gesture. In that gesture, your sins are forgiven, your relationship with God is full and the Lord strengthens and heals you. So, be open to the grace that is the sacrament. Know that God is with us and what a gift that is.”

Saint André Health Care is a 96-bed facility, a member of Covenant Health. Saint André offers rehabilitation and medical care, short-term respite care, long-term nursing care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and palliative and hospice care.

“This is an honor for us to have the bishop here, saying Mass for the residents and the families of residents,” said Steve Alaimo, president and CEO of the facility. “Even those with dementia, they forget the everyday things, but the religious aspect is so important to them, and it always comes back to them.”

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