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World Day of the Sick

This year the Church celebrates the 25th anniversary of World Day of the Sick instituted by St. John Paul II in 1992. On this 25th anniversary, we return to the grotto at Lourdes, where the first World Day of the Sick began. Pope Francis in his message for World Day of the Sick this year reminds us that, “Like Saint Bernadette, we stand beneath the watchful gaze of Mary. The humble maiden of Lourdes tells us that the Virgin, whom she called the Lovely Lady, looked at her as one person looks at another. Those simple words describe the fullness of a relationship. Bernadette, poor, illiterate and ill, felt that Mary was looking at her as a person. The Lovely Lady spoke to her with great respect and without condescension.

This reminds us that every person is, and always remains, a human being, and is to be treated as such. The sick and the those who are disabled, even severely, have their own inalienable dignity and mission in life. They never become simply objects. If at times they appear merely passive, in reality that is never the case.

After her visit to the Grotto, thanks to her prayer, Bernadette turned her frailty into support for others. Thanks to her love, she was able to enrich her neighbours and, above all, to offer her life for the salvation of humanity. The fact that the Lovely Lady asked her to pray for sinners reminds us that the infirm and the suffering desire not only to be healed, but also to live a truly Christian life, even to the point of offering it as authentic missionary disciples of Christ.

Mary gave Bernadette the vocation of serving the sick and called her to become a Sister of Charity, a mission that she carried out in so exemplary a way as to become a model for every healthcare worker. Let us ask Mary Immaculate for the grace always to relate to the sick as persons who certainly need assistance, at times even for the simplest of things, but who have a gift of their own to share with others.”

This year, we also thank Bishop Henry for all his support and leadership in the Health Care Ministry within our diocese. Bishop Henry has been at the forefront of many ethical and moral debates in health care in our province, always advocating for respect for human dignity from the womb to the tomb. Bishop Henry has been a guiding beacon of insight and light in sometimes the darkest of times, when human dignity and life were challenged to the max.

Our Health Care Apostolate of the Diocese has been immensely blessed with Bishop Henry’s support in continually providing designated priest chaplains to Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat for Pastoral Care of the sick, elderly and dying. The department also has enjoyed much support in allowing us to provide ongoing training and education for all our staff and volunteers in the diverse areas of holistic health care.

Thank you Bishop Henry for your unwavering support and guidance since your arrival as our Bishop in 1998! On behalf of all of us in the Health Care Apostolate, God bless you and keep you in your retirement years.

Related Offices Health Care Carillon
Related Themes Bereavement Care Pastoral Care Palliative Care Health Care

World Day of the Sick 2017

Message of our Holy Father, Pope Francis for the 25th World Day of the Sick

Dear brothers and sisters,

On 11 February next, the Twenty-fifth World Day of the Sick will be celebrated throughout the Church and in a special way at Lourdes. The theme of this year's celebration is "Amazement at what God has accomplished: 'The Almighty has done great things for me...'" (Lk 1:49). Instituted by my predecessor Saint John Paul II in 1992, and first celebrated at Lourdes on 11 February 1993, this Day is an opportunity to reflect in particular on the needs of the sick and, more generally, of all those who suffer. It is also an occasion for those who generously assist the sick, beginning with family members, health workers and volunteers, to give thanks for their God-given vocation of accompanying our infirm brothers and sisters. Read more


Downloadable resources

Pope Francis' message (in French, click here)

download Prayer Cards

download Poster

Related Offices Health Care
Related Themes Bereavement Care Discipleship Pastoral Care Palliative Care Health Care Courses and Workshops Adult Formation

Bereavement Education Program Outline

Program Outline

The order of the sessions may change.

Session 1

  • Bereavement

Session 2

  • Communication Skills

Session 3

  • Anticipatory Loss & Grief

Session 4

  • Loss, Death & Grief in Children & Adolescents

Session 5

  • Suicide & Sudden Loss

Session 6

  • Spirituality in the Grief Experience

Session 7

  • Evaluation of Program
  • Celebration & Presentation of Certificates
Related Offices Health Care
Related Themes Bereavement Care Pastoral Care Courses and Workshops

Being Known by God and Knowing Him

Inner peace comes from knowing that one is loved by God and from the desire to respond to that love. ~ John Paul II ~

Psalm 139 makes reference to the unborn life. The Catholic Women's Devotional Bible elaborates further by saying, "From the instant of conception, the child in the womb is in a relationship with God. Hidden to everyone else, the child is cherished by its Creator, who lovingly and 'wonderfully' fashions it [Psalm 139.13-16]. Each unborn child's death is first and foremost God's loss…. Abortion opposes God's creative action. It ends one phase of His special relationship with a human being who is sacred, called into existence by God as a unique person made in His image and likeness.

Women who have had abortions and suffered bitter regrets over what might have been are often caught up in a downward spiral of black despair. What have I done? There is no forgiveness for me. But Scripture says the exact opposite. 'The Lord is merciful and gracious…. He does not deal with us according to our sins' [Psalm 103.8.10]. Women who seek forgiveness from the God of unfailing love will surely find it – and will also find help to deal with the anguish that is an inescapable fruit of abortion."

This anguish is no small thing, because abortion is no small thing. The decision, often made hastily and under duress, is irrevocable, there is no way back. Like a rosebud nipped before it can bloom and display its beauty, new life has been snuffed out.

The Project Rachel Ministry is a ministry of hope and healing. Although it is under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary, this ministry is offered to those of any faith; available to men and women impacted directly, or indirectly by abortion. This ministry invites the person to give God permission to heal their heart. We are all sinners. God disapproves of our deed, but He never stops loving us.

The story of the woman caught in adultery John 8.1-11 is a beautiful example of God's mercy. When the Scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman who has been caught in adultery before Jesus, they are prepared to stone her as the law of Moses commanded. How did Jesus respond? Jesus replied, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." When they heard this, they went away, one by one and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus asked her "Woman, has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on, do not sin again."

The Project Rachel Ministry is spiritual, post-abortion counselling, offered on an individual basis or during a weekend group retreat. This uniquely individual, healing journey of prayer, music, scripture and reflection includes the processing and release of pain, loss, grief, shame and anger. Healing is about forgiveness of others, of self, and experiencing God's mercy and forgiveness. The Project Rachel Ministry is a valuable resource of understanding, compassion and hope for anyone suffering from and still living with the aftermath of an abortion experience. Help is there for all who need it. One only needs to accept it.

For more information about the Project Rachel Ministry, call (403) 218-5504.

Related Offices Life & Family Resource Centre (LFRC) Related Programs Project Rachel
Related Themes Bereavement Care Abortion Pastoral Care Life Issues

Health Care Apostolate Current Programs

Current Programs offered by the Diocesan Health Care Apostolate Department include:

  1. Diocesan Basic Pastoral Care Training Program.
    This program is offered both Spring & Fall in Calgary and upon request for the rural areas and other cities within the diocese.

  2. Diocesan Palliative Care Training Program.
    This program is offered both Spring & Fall in Calgary and upon request for the rural areas and other cities within the diocese.

  3. Bereavement Education Program.
    This program is offered in the Winter in Calgary and upon request in the rural areas and other cities within the diocese.

  4. Alzheimer Workshop.
    This program is offered in collaboration with the Calgary Alzheimer's Society, typically once or twice a year depending on the demand.

  5. Mental Health Workshop.
    This program is offered in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association, typically once a year, this year in the Spring.

  6. Annual Pastoral Care Coordinators Workshop.
    This workshop is held typically once a year in order to update and continue to train our Parish and Facility Pastoral Care Coordinators and Volunteers.

  7. Annual Pastoral Care  In-Service / Retreat Day.
    This in-service is generally held once a year for the staff (about 20) including hired and volunteer Coordinators. This day allows us to keep everyone in a coordinating role up to date on diocesan directives, policies, and procedures concerning the ministry of Pastoral Care.

  8. Courage & Encourage Apostolate.
    This program is a support ministry providing pastoral care to people seeking support in dealing with same–sex attraction or homosexuality issues.

  9. Parish Eucharistic & or Pastoral Care Education Workshops.
    These workshops are designed to provide on-going and continued educational opportunities for Parish Pastoral Care Teams.

  10. Pastoral Care Twilight Retreats.
    These retreats are offered to all Pastoral Care volunteers as a time of faith enrichment and ministry encouragement opportunity. Usually, these retreats are offered once or twice a year.

  11. Compassion and Fatigue and / or Burnout for the Pastoral Care Giver.
    These Workshops are offered upon request.

  12. End of Life Decision Making & Personal Health Directives.
    These Workshops are available upon request.

Related Offices Health Care
Related Themes Bereavement Care Pastoral Care Discipleship Palliative Care Health Care Courses and Workshops Adult Formation
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