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.