10/30/2012 11:01:00 AM Pastoral care available before and at time of death
Catholic News Service photo
Family members watch over Leo King at his bedside at the Center for Compassionate Care in Pittsburgh.
The Catholic Church offers many forms of pastoral care for those who are dying or who mourn. Here are key points from the Archdiocese of Portland's pastoral ministry to the sick, dying and grieving:
• Most parishes have a ministry of outreach to those who are homebound, frail or sick.
• Anointing of the sick is a sacrament of physical and spiritual healing for people in poor health — those facing life threatening surgeries, chronic illnesses and impending death. It's most appropriately received by one who is conscious and able to participate in its celebration, so notify your pastor early if someone is in need.
• When death approaches, it's a time to express affections and also discuss funeral arrangements, choosing Scripture passages and music. Funeral planning, a meaningful moment between loved ones, can also occur while we are young and healthy. Thinking ahead reduces anxiety for survivors. Pastors and parish ministers can assist with the process.
• Following the death of a loved one, family members and friends who have gathered around the body may wish to offer special prayers for his or her eternal salvation. Such prayers are also meant to assist in the consolation of those who remain. A priest can also be invited to say the prayers. Some parishes have volunteers who will visit the household to bring food or other supplies if desired.
• The person responsible for making the funeral arrangements should first contact the parish priest. This will allow the priest to work with the family of the deceased in determining an appropriate time for the funeral services to take place.
• A vigil before the funeral is marked by a sense of “being with” and “watching over” the body of the deceased. The vigil serves as a time for family and friends to reconnect and offer memories.