“[W]hen earthly existence draws to a close, it is again charity which finds the most appropriate means for enabling the elderly, especially those who can no longer look after themselves, and the terminally ill to enjoy genuinely humane assistance and to receive an adequate response to their needs, in particular their anxiety and their loneliness.” Gospel of Life ¶ 88.
Promote Advanced Directives that Respect Human Life
Make available advanced directives that respect life. Comfort and Consolation: Care of the Sick and Dying, a pastoral letter from the Bishops of Maryland, is available from the Maryland Catholic Conference. The Patient’s Rights Council has a Protective Medical Decisions Document available for a donation on their website.
Arrange Visits to a Nursing Home.
Coordinate parishioners (consider youth group or Confirmation classes) and arrange visits to residents at a local nursing home. Sit with residents to talk, help them with lunch, play cards, etc.
Start a Prayer Blanket Ministry.
Caring volunteers donate fabric, thread, and time to sew lap-size blankets for those who are either sick or going through extremely difficult times in their life. The Prayer Blanket is a symbol of a “faith sharing community” of donors and recipients praying for one another.
Organize a Support Network for Families of the Sick or Suffering.
Suffering is a sharing in Christ’s passion, but it is not easy, especially alone. The temptation is to end suffering, even if it means ending the life of the person suffering.
Invite parishioners who are suffering and their family members and friends to communicate. Advertise in the bulletin or through announcements after Masses and ask parishioners to share contact information. Keep a running list of interested parishioners and their contact information, distribute the list to the network, and host a meeting every couple of months for members to meet. Encourage parishioners to meet up, support one another, communicate by phone or e-mail, etc.
Start Homebound, Hospital, and Nursing Home, and Hospice Ministry.
Invite parishioners who are homebound, hospitalized, in nursing homes, or in hospice and their family members to let the parish know their needs (meals, visitors, Eucharistic ministry, etc). Provide a contact name, phone number, and e-mail in the Sunday bulletin. Announce the beginning of this ministry after Masses. Ask youth groups, Confirmation candidates, homemakers, seniors, etc. to visit these parishioners and meet their needs.