CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 July 2019

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The suffering Christ is among us in the sick

Hong Kong (SE): “Time spent with the sick is holy time. It is a way of praising God who conforms us to the image of his Son, who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Jesus himself said I am among you as one who serves (Luke 22:27),” observed Pope Francis in his message for the 23rd World Day of the Sick on May 13. 

The Church recognises the sick as a special presence of the suffering Christ. Saint John Paul II initiated the World Day of the Sick in 1992 to encourage people to pray for those who suffer from illness and for their caregivers. 

To engage in this special mission of the Church, the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong established the Diocesan Commission for Hospital Pastoral Care in 1991. 

The commission coordinates pastoral services in public hospitals with the help of 32 Pastoral Care Units under the Hospital Authority of Hong Kong. It also  has a training centre which provides Clinical Pastoral Education and volunteer training. 

The Hospital Authority has granted the title of Honorary Staff to commission staff members since 2010, which permits pastoral care workers to operate as part of the health care team.

According to the report presented at the annual general meeting for the Hospital Pastoral Care workers on May 8, in 2014 the commission contributed 13,697 service hours and visited 13,718 patients with the help of 40 staff members and over 300 volunteers. 

The meeting was chaired by Auxiliary Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, who also celebrated the Mass. 

During the meeting the bishop revealed plans to add the Clinical Pastoral Education Course (the foundation course for becoming a pastoral care worker) into the Health Sciences Faculty in the future Catholic University of Hong Kong. This would be a giant step towards professionalism in hospital pastoral care.

In the years ahead, a lot of changes are foreseen in the health care system as the Hospital Authority has announced that new hospitals will be built while old hospitals will be expanded to cope with the growing demands of the aging population. 

Community Medicine will be further developed to minimise hospital stays. The commission has a task to tackle the challenges presented by the new developments. 

 

The Diocesan Commission for Hospital Pastoral Care will mark its 25th anniversary in 2016 and called on the Catholic community of Hong Kong to support its efforts either as a volunteer or through financial assistance to cope with growing demand.

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