The 20th World Day of the Sick is Saturday, Feb. 11. It is also the day that Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, will be in Philadelphia to lead the “Conference for Health Care Workers and Medical Professionals.” The conference will be held at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre said plans for the conference were launched in Rome during meetings in December. “Archbishop Zimowski indicated that he would like to host a health care conference in Philadelphia on Feb. 11, the World Day for the Sick, to highlight the mission of the Church in caring for the sick on a day devoted to the sick, which is also the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes,” he said.
The conference’s goal, explained Bishop McIntyre, who is responsible for the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Human Services, “is for the encouragement of Catholic health care workers and medical professionals and for them to bring their own Catholic faith to bear upon their work. Any time we encourage those who care for the sick is a furthering of a calling of Christ to care for the sick and provide healing and prayers.”
Pope Benedict XVI’s message about the World Day for the Sick on Nov. 20, 2011, established the theme, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you (Luke 17:19).”
The Pope’s message “looks forward to the forthcoming Year of Faith which will begin Oct. 11, a propitious and valuable occasion to rediscover the strength and beauty of faith, to examine its contents, and to bear witness to it in daily life (cf. Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, Oct. 11, 2011). I wish to encourage sick people and the suffering always to find a safe anchor in faith, nourished by listening to the Word of God, by personal prayer and by the sacraments, while I invite pastors to be increasingly ready to celebrate them for the sick. Following the example of the Good Shepherd and as guides of the flocks entrusted to them, priests should be full of joy, attentive to the weakest, the simple and sinners, expressing the infinite mercy of God with reassuring words of hope (cf. St. Augustine, Letter 95, 1: PL 33, 351-352).”
The agenda for the Conference for Health Care Workers and Medical Professionals on Feb. 11 is as follows:
11 a.m. — Archbishop Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council, will give the keynote address, offering reflections on the message of Pope Benedict XVI for the 2012 World Day for the Sick.
Lunch will be available afterwards in the seminary cafeteria.
1:15 p.m. — Dr. John Haas, director of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, will offer a lecture titled “God Heals All Infirmities: The Power of the Sacraments in the Church’s Healing Ministry.”
2 p.m. — Ron Rak, president and CEO of St. Peter Healthcare System, New Brunswick, N.J., will offer a lecture addressing the topic of “Bearing Witness to God in a Healthcare Setting.”
2:45 p.m. — Dr. Nayan Kothari, associate dean of education at Drexel University, will offer a lecture titled “Thou Shall Not Kill: Perspective of a Jain Physician.”
3:30 p.m. — Archbishop Zimowski will celebrate Mass in the seminary chapel for participants of the conference. Archbishop Charles Chaput will give the homily.
Bishop McIntyre said he hopes those attending the conference take away the message of the Church’s concern for those who are ill.
“The sacraments of Penance, Eucharist and Anointing the Sick offer strength for the sick,” Bishop McIntyre explained. “We encourage and support health care workers and caregivers, those taking care of sick parents and relatives. Anyone who cares for the sick and brings healing is welcome.”
To register, call Connie Scharff at 215-587-0504 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Lunch may be purchased at the seminary cafeteria the day of the conference for $5.
Jim Gauger is a freelance writer and a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Glenside.