World Day of the Sick Healing Mass
Sat. Feb. 9, 1-4 p.m.
Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral,
6351 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix
Those attending can receive the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
The Mass will be broadcast live on:
Tim Jeffries knows physical pain. In his more than 50 years, Jeffries has undergone six spinal surgeries and 11 other operations. Yet he considers many others living with chronic pain and life-threatening illness worse off than himself. Any of those individuals, along with Jeffries and scores of others, can attend the Diocese of Phoenix’s annual bilingual World Day of the Sick Healing Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, Saturday, Feb. 9.
One of dozens of services held globally, the Mass was instituted in 1992 by Pope St. John Paul II as a vehicle to pray for the ill and infirm around the world and coincides with the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes Feb. 11. Masses typically include the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. This year’s celebrant, Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares, will join about a dozen other priests in administering the sacrament.
“The blessings of coming together as a Catholic community to offer humble physical and spiritual healing is phenomenal,” said Jeffries, the new president of the Phoenix chapter of the Order of Malta that organizes the annual Mass. The order, a worldwide Catholic lay religious order, seeks to, according to its mission, “glorify God by promoting the sanctification of each member through his or her work with the sick and the poor and defense of the Catholic faith.”
Immediately following Mass, the order and the diocese will conduct a health fair, complete with information booths from a number of agencies and entities promoting health-related services. Visitors to the fair will be able to receive an Our Lady of Lourdes medal blessed by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and a small bottle from Lourdes, the small French town where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on numerous occasions to St. Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant girl, in 1858. During one of the apparitions, the Blessed Mother directed Bernadette to a spring whose waters have since been consumed by thousands of visitors who report curing of medical conditions through the water and prayer. The Order of Malta leads annual pilgrimages of healing to Lourdes each May.
“This is the liturgy of anointing; one of the seven sacraments of the Church,” explained Gabrielle Chung, a dame in the order and chairwoman of the 2019 Broadcast and Health Fair. The anointing will take place following the Gospel and will begin with an invitation to participants to approach the altar. Those who cannot physically stand or walk can remain in the vestibule or in their wheelchairs or seats, where they will be met by a priest.
The 2018 Mass drew nearly 1,200 worshippers, including friends, family and caregivers for the sick. Caregivers are invited to approach the altar along with the ill to be blessed.
Dcn. Peter Auriemma of St. Joan of Arc Parish, a retired doctor and former chief of urology with the Veterans Administration in Phoenix, said the reach of the sacrament, formerly known as Extreme Unction, has broadened over the years.
“People who are going to have surgery, chronic pain, illnesses — it’s not just the person who looks like they’re going to die. It’s no longer for the final moments of a person’s life,” said Dcn. Auriemma, who is also a knight in the order. For those unable to attend, the Mass will be broadcast for the second year in a row via the ETWN network and AZTV Channel 7. It will also be live-streamed via the diocesan Facebook page and YouTube channel (@phoenixdiocese).
“I am blessed to carry the Cross of chronic pain,” said Jeffries. “Every Mass, yet particularly this one, is an opportunity for me and scores of other brother and sister Catholics with far heavier crosses to humbly approach God’s altar and lovingly offer our pain for His assistance, our sanctification and His holy work.”