Ministry to the Sick
Dear Friends in Christ:
An important part of the pastoral care and ministry of the Church is our care for the sick and dying. We care for the sick and suffering because Jesus did. The gospels tell us of the love and care Jesus showed the infirm and how the sick came to Jesus for healing and comfort. The apostle St. James exhorts us “if there are any sick among you, send for the priest of the church and the priest will pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” (Jas 5.14) This is the basis behind the Church’s healthcare ministry and our sacramental and spiritual care for the sick. In our parish we continue the ministry of Christ as we care for the sick spiritually by our prayers, visitation, bringing communion to the sick and celebrating the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. More than 120 people are ministered to every week through our Ministry to the Sick. As a parish, we also care for the sick and their physical wellbeing through our support of various clinics and health care facilities for the needy in Houston and our medical mission trips to Central America.
Twice a year, we communally celebrate the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick at Mass. For those who are homebound, we respond when the family requests the sacrament for their loved one who is seriously ill. For those persons in hospitals and care facilities outside the parish, each center is entrusted by the archdiocese to the Catholic Chaplains Corps, which is supported by DSF, or to a particular parish in that area for pastoral care.
When a loved one is in the hospital and needs anointing, especially in an emergency situation, the Catholic chaplain responsible should be called for our area hospitals:
- West Houston Medical Center is provided care by St. Justin Martyr Parish
- Memorial Herman-Memorial City Hospital is cared for by The Catholic Chaplains Corps and back up coverage is provided by St. Cecilia Parish.
- Memorial Herman Hospital – Katy is cared for by St. Bartholomew Parish.
- Houston Methodist – West Houston Hospital is served by St. Edith Stein Parish.
- The Hospitals of the Texas Medical Center are served by The Catholic Chaplain Corps.
When possible, a person should approach the parish for the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick prior to hospitalization. When registering at the hospital always indicate that the patient is a Catholic. Tell the hospital staff that you want Catholic pastoral care. Due to government regulations (HIPPA) it is now very difficult and sometimes impossible for a pastoral minister (lay person, deacon or priest) to gain needed information to minister to a hospitalized person in need of spiritual care. When calling the Chaplains Corps or a parish it is important to give complete and accurate information.
Our parish provides for those care facilities within our parish boundaries – Parkway and Eagles Trace. We also provide pastoral care at The Concierge, The Abbey, Autumn Years and Autumn Leaves even though they are in St. Justin Martyr parish. Our parish Ministry to the Sick (lay ministers and deacons) is coordinated by Deacon Greg Stokes. Mary Dori, Jean Wu and Joe Rouse each coordinate the various areas of the ministry. Deacon Dale Steffes does a marvelous job in reaching out to many of our parishioners. Deacon Al Vacek is the Director of the Catholic Chaplains Corps of the Archdiocese. The Ministry to the Sick brings Holy Communion to the homebound in our parish, those in the healthcare facilities cared for by our parish as well as assisting at Memorial Herman/Memorial City and Methodist West Houston hospitals.
Sometimes people think they can only be served by the priests or ministers from their own parish. Not so. We are all Catholic. For folks from other parishes who are in the care centers within the boundaries of SJV, we gladly go and see them. Likewise, when any Catholic is in one of the hospitals the priests in charge of that hospital readily go and care for them regardless of what parish they belong to. The Catholic Church is larger than the parish. We may belong to different parishes but we all belong to the same Church. When a priest in the Texas Medical Center anoints an SJV Parishioner, that Catholic is receiving the ministry and pastoral care of the Church. When in the hospital and desiring a priest to hear confession or to administer the Sacrament of the Sick, the first step is to simply ask the nurse or the hospital’s pastoral care department to contact the Catholic Chaplain. If you forget or don’t remember who to call, just call the parish and we will always be happy to contact the proper chaplain.
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately