Every spiritual soul is created immediately by God…and it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.
The Catholic Church offers lifelong spiritual support through sacramental ministry and pastoral care. Our ministry offers care and services for those either preparing for or in later life, as our time on earth approaches its natural end.
Illness is something that many of us will eventually face. Amidst the difficulty, a time of illness presents an opportunity to deepen one’s relationship with God and to find support in Christ’s community of disciples. During this time, it is especially important to reach out for support and encouragement. Visit our Ministry section to learn more about how to connect with someone, and how to journey towards hope and healing.
If you have been regular in parish life, you know that you can rely on your community for love, support and resources. Sometimes, people who enter a health care institution may think that they have lost their parish membership, when in reality illness opens up new dimensions of shared faith. Remember that you remain part of the parish, despite any physical separation. Don’t hesitate to call; it is still your parish home.
If, for any reason, you have not been part of parish life, please consider reactivating your relationship with a parish. The Church is a gentle and welcoming Mother. A family member, friend or one of our caring staff can make a recommendation or facilitate an introduction.
At the end of life, Catholics speak of The Last Rites. One of these is the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick, once called Extreme Unction. The Church calls for the Anointing of the Sick at any junction of poor health, especially in cases of proximity to death. It is a sign of ultimate healing, even if a physical cure does not take place.
Another Sacrament of Healing is the Sacrament of Reconciliation (also called Penance or Confession) which can mark a turning point in one’s relationship with God and the Church. This sacrament of mercy and forgiveness, pardon and peace can unburden a heart heavy with regrets and anxieties due to sin.
The Sacraments of Anointing the Sick and Reconciliation are administered by a priest.
The Communion of the Sick is the sustaining sacrament throughout an illness. When death comes near, the Eucharist for the dying takes a new name: Viaticum (pronounced “vee-ATT-ah-cum”). Viaticum deepens the bond between Christ and the believer on the final journey to heaven. A person can receive the Viaticum as often as needed while the possibility of death is near, but on separate days. It can be administered by a lay person who has been commissioned by the pastor as a member of the Extraordinary Minister of the Holy Communion.
The Catholic Tradition also offers spiritual support through sacramentals, such as holy water and blessed candles, crosses and crucifixes, images and icons, rosaries and medals and the like. Sacramentals mediate the beauty of grace through the five senses. All offer reassurance and consolation amidst pain and troubles.