Published January 26, 2006
A special archdiocesan-wide Mass including the Anointing of the Sick will be held Saturday, Feb. 11, at noon at Holy Spirit Church.
The liturgy is sponsored by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, whose primary mission is to assist the sick and the less fortunate.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory recently wrote a letter to the priests of the archdiocese, asking for their prayers and participation.
“I know that in the Church of Atlanta, many people suffer from many types of illness,” he wrote. “This is a wonderful time for these beloved sisters and brothers to come together as the Archdiocese of Atlanta to pray for one another and to be anointed with the Oil of the Sick which I blessed on Tuesday of Holy Week 2005.”
Archbishop Gregory and Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue are scheduled to be at the Mass, along with many priests of the archdiocese. A light reception will be held following the Mass.
Those who wish to participate in the liturgy, especially those to be anointed, are requested to arrive at the parish by 11 a.m. so that the proper arrangements can be made for them. The church is wheelchair accessible, and ministers of hospitality will be available to lead people into the main church.
In a phone interview, Father Ricardo Bailey, parochial vicar at Holy Spirit Church and coordinator of the Mass for the Sick, spoke of the significance of the sacrament, which is often misunderstood by Catholics as a blessing that is offered in the moment of impending death.
“A lot of people get their catechesis of the sacrament of the sick from Hollywood … It becomes a shared ignorance,” he said. “This sacrament is not exclusive to those who are dying. This is for anyone who is ill, and that can be broken down into many categories, whether physical, mental or emotional illness.”
Father Bailey said he hopes that “the church is overflowing” for the Mass and noted that it is being held on the feast day of Our Lady Lourdes. Pilgrims throughout the world travel to Lourdes, France, to bathe in the water in which people have been miraculously healed since Mary appeared to young Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.
Founded in the 11th century, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is one of the most ancient religious Catholic orders. According to their Web site, the Order of Malta “works in the field of medical and social care and humanitarian aid, in over 120 countries, supported by the diplomatic relations it currently has with 94 nations. The Order also runs hospitals, medical centers, day hospitals, nursing homes for the elderly and the disabled, and special centers for the terminally ill.”
Father Bailey said all those who are suffering from serious illness are encouraged to attend.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for those who are ill. They have the opportunity to meet with Christ the Physician. It reminds them that they are not alone and gives the entire church a chance to pray with them,” he said.
For more information about the Mass, call Holy Spirit Church at (404) 252-4513. The church is located at 4465 Northside Drive.