Fr. Manuel Abogado, Minister, Archdiocese of Manila Ministry on Healthcare | Photo by Rian Francis Salamat/RCAM-AOC
The World Day of the Sick (WDS), which the Catholic Church observes annually every February 11 on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, is an occasion to remember our sick brothers and sisters and to give recognition to all those who work in the health care ministry.
Fr. Manuel Abogado, Minister, Archdiocese of Manila Ministry on Healthcare told the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Communications that the WDS celebration is significant because the country has been battling with the scourge of coronavirus for almost a year. The celebration according to him is an occasion to remember the sick and be one with them in prayers.
“… a special time for prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering for the good of the Church and of reminding everyone to see in his sick brother or sister the face of Christ, who by, suffering, dying and rising, achieved the salvation of mankind,” he said.
This year’s celebration, Fr. Abogado added is “is not solely for the sick, but even for those who provide them with care, health care individuals and institutions alike, that they may grow in their commitment and care for those who are suffering and sick, especially the poor, weak, elderly and marginalized”.
The Health Care Ministry of the Archdiocese of Manila is composed of chaplains, chaplaincy ministers, parish lay health care ministers and volunteers who continue to assist and respond to the increasing needs of sick people particularly those who are infected by the COVID-19.
“It is said that the best you can offer to others when they are sick and suffering is your listening ear, time and self. As Chaplains and Chaplaincy Ministers, we did not leave our post in the hospital,” Fr. Abogado said.
“Even with the pandemic, we continued to journey and serve the sick and the hospital people in the best way we can. The number of services offered may have decreased but our hearts for service did not,” he added.
The ministry in time of pandemic continues to administer the sacraments of anointing the sick, conducts confessions and holds a celebration of the Holy Eucharist, all within observance of health protocols.
They distributed foods, personal protective equipment, medicines, bicycles and bed from one hospital to another as part of their charity works and outreach programs. They also assisted in providing accommodations and other needs of medical frontliners.
To create awareness, Fr. Abogado said, the ministry came up with guidelines on COVID-19 safety and care of parishes and communities in the archdiocese. They also engaged in social media information and formation.
With the growing number of people experiencing financial, psychological and emotional problems, the ministry also conducts recollections and spiritual and psycho-spiritual webinars and formation to strengthen their faith.
In addition to the spiritual nourishment, Fr. Abogado added that the parish lay health care ministers opened themselves for the formation and training of spiritual direction and pastoral counseling.
The priest also encouraged the people to continue to trust the Lord even when they are feeling hopeless and troubled.
“We never waver in our trust in God, in His Divine Mercy. We trust in God and also trust in the goodness of the people whom he created and saved. There is hope in God and each one of us,” he said. (Jheng Prado/RCAM-AOC)