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Jubilee pilgrimage reaches 'out to the sick and to the suffering'

Cardinal O'Malley lays his hands on those receiving the Sacrament of the Sick at the Pilgrimage and Mass for the Sick and their Caregivers April 24. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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SOUTH END -- As part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley presided at a Pilgrimage and Mass for the Sick and their Caregivers at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, April 24.

The Mass was organized by the Cardinal's Office, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the Order of Malta, St. John's Seminary and the Archdiocesan Office of Chaplaincy Programs.

"Today, we'll celebrate the anointing of the Sacrament of the Sick. Jesus' great ministry in the Gospel is to the sick. Jesus is constantly reaching out to the sick and to the suffering. And today, it is Jesus who anoints our brothers and sisters with the oil of gladness. May this anointing bring strength and spiritual healing into the lives of those being anointed, and to all of us who witness this sacrament," the cardinal said in his homily.

"May it be a reminder that we are all one body in Christ, that we are called to love each other in such a special way, that the love that we have for each other will be a reflection of how much the Lord loves all of and cares for all of us," he continued.

The Liturgy of the Anointing began with a litany, after which Cardinal O'Malley and cathedral rector Father Kevin J. O'Leary, laid their hands on the head of each sick person.

The cardinal then said a prayer of thanksgiving over the blessed oil, before he and Father O'Leary used it to anoint first the forehead and then the hands of those receiving the sacrament. A prayer was said after the anointing.

Craig Gibson, membership chair of the Boston area Order of Malta and a hospital chaplain, spoke to The Pilot after the Mass.

"A big part of our charism, as members of the Order of Malta, is caring for the sick and the poor, and then also practicing and witness and being able to defend the faith," he said.

"It all came together beautifully. I had tears watching many of these folks be anointed," he said of the Mass.

Kathy Riordan attended the Mass with family members to allow her sister, Margaret, who received severe head injuries in a car accident when she was 20, to receive the sacrament of healing.

Kathy said she and Margaret planned to go on the International Order of Malta Pilgrimage to Lourdes, April 27.

"It's something I've always wanted to do as a child... Getting her there, that's my job... I've been trying to go for three years, and finally, this year, we got accepted," she said.

"My sister's been very reluctant, but we just need to help her, it's one step at a time. We're having small miracles each step along the way. Getting her here today is a miracle," she continued.

Jack and Kathy Knapp also attended the Mass, with their daughter Mary. Kathy said Mary has brain cancer, and since her treatment, it has been hard for her to get around. Still, she said, Mary wanted to go to the Mass.

"She's a dentist, she's our oldest. She's the oldest of the eight children, and I'm just so happy that she was able to come," said Kathy.

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