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Holy Trinity parish introduces pastoral care for the sick

TAWAU – A total of 258 parishioners attended a talk facilitated by Xavier Chung on Pastoral Care for The Sick: How to offer healing and peace of Jesus Christ at Holy Trinity here on 11 Aug in English and on 12 Aug 2018 in BM.

The participants consisted of Sunday School children aged 13 years above, parents and adults from various ministries in the parish.

The speaker, Xavier Chung is from St Francis Major Seminary in Singapore. He majored in Clinical Pastoral Care from the University of New South Wales in Australia and is currently providing pastoral care in hospitals and hospices in Singapore.

Chung reminded the listeners that it is the mission of every Catholic to spread the Good News of Christ’s salvation, and that it is not exclusively to those who are healthy but also it includes those who are sick.

In the church’s catechism No. 1500 “The illness/sickness afflicting a person causes the person to experience helplessness, to feel limited in life and to feel tied down. This in turn can cause anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also lead a person to be more mature in the sense that the afflicted person is able to discern what is more important in life. Often, an experience of glimpsing death provokes a search and return to God.”

Chung singled out the main difference between care-giving by NGOs and care-giving by the church in that care-giving by the church acknowledges the afflicted as a child of God, created in His image and that Christ knows him/her personally.

For Christian care-giving, the need to understand and emphatize with the sick is accentuated. The afflicted will have a myriad of feelings. He may feel anger, despair, hopelessness. While some may be able to smile and joke in the face of their illness, some may be numb and unable to show any feelings about what they are going through.

He explained why the afflicted reacts the way that they do. From his experience, he shared that the sick experiences pain, regrets in life, unfinished businesses, thoughts about death, of unreached expectations and some are overwhelmed by the surrounding happenings.

Chung then shared some tools that care-givers should have.  Using the five stages of grief based on the Kubler-Ross model, he identified the stages the patient goes through in his sickness. The first being denial, followed by anger, then depression which then develops into bargaining and the final stage being acceptance of the condition he is in.

Highlighting on the four basic needs that humans require in life: 1) to have meaning and purpose; 2) the need to give love; 3) the need to receive love; and 4) the need for hope and forgiveness; the speaker said that a person afflicted by serious sickness will experience regret with respect to these four needs.

Chung also introduced the attendees to the Spiritual Screening Tool where the attendees were taught to communicate effectively and personally with the afflicted person.

A series of exercises were done to help the attendees to understand more their role as care-giver. The main aim was to get to know the person more closely so as to facilitate the encounter to be more positive with the goal to have the afflicted know that God is with them in whatever condition they are in.

Feedback from the attendees was positive: the participants have acquired the knowledge and understanding how to provide better care for the sick. They were also now more aware and appreciative of their roles as care-givers. – James Joseph

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