Cardinal to celebrate year of mercy pilgrimage and Mass for sick and caregivers

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BOSTON -- A Jubilee Year of Mercy Mass for the Sick and their Caregivers will take place on Sunday, April 24, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. Cardinal Seán O'Malley will preside.

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, the Mass is part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Those attending the Mass can walk through the Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. A Holy Door is an entrance to a cathedral or church that symbolizes a path to salvation. The Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the only one in the Archdiocese of Boston. Traditionally, pilgrims have traveled to Rome to mark Jubilee years, but, to encourage every Catholic to make a pilgrimage, Pope Francis invited dioceses from around the world to open Holy Doors, allowing the faithful to make pilgrimages closer to home.

"Cardinal Seán invites in a special way all those who are sick and their caregivers, that they may come and pray for the Lord's healing in their bodies, minds and souls," said Father Jonathan Gaspar, Director of Divine Worship for the Archdiocese of Boston. "The Cardinal will anoint those who wish to receive the Sacrament of the Sick during this Jubilee Mass."

Members of The Order of Malta are very familiar with healing Masses. Part of the nearly 1,000-year-old Order's mission is to care for the sick. Each year, the worldwide Order of Malta brings the sick and their caregivers to the healing waters in Lourdes, France, to seek the miracles of Lourdes. This is just one of many ways in which members live the Order's calling. Central among the spiritual events is a Mass for the sick and their caregivers.

"Healing Masses have a long history of providing comfort to those who are ill," said Craig Gibson, a member of the Order of Malta and a hospital chaplain. "The Mass provides a way to develop a closer connection with God and to obtain a greater sense of peace of mind and heart."

Included in the Jubilee Mass will be the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which will be offered to those who are very ill.

"The Church tells us that the anointing, by uniting the sick more closely to the Passion of Christ, strengthens us body and soul, bringing us closer to God," said Msgr. James P. Moroney, rector of St. John's Seminary and a Malta Chaplain.

Persons who would receive the sacrament include those whose health is seriously impaired by physical or mental illness or old age; those preparing for surgery, if the surgery is caused by serious illness; elderly people who have become notably weakened, even though no serious illness is present; seriously ill children who have sufficient use of reason to be strengthened by the sacrament; and those who have been anointed if they relapse after recovery or if their condition becomes more serious. Those who would like to be anointed are encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to the Jubilee Mass.

The seminarians from St. John's will provide staffing to make the endeavor possible, but their role goes much deeper than that. The involvement of the seminarians brings with it the additional benefit of engaging the next generation of priests in the work of caring for the sick, allowing them to bring this understanding to their future work in parishes, hospitals and schools.

Those wishing to receive the Sacrament of the Sick are kindly asked to register by email at bostonhealingmass@rcab.org or by leaving a message at this number: 857-302-4325. Wheelchair access and seating in the front of the cathedral will be provided.

Anyone who is in need of the Lord's mercy and healing is welcome to participate in this Jubilee Mass, especially those who are sick and their caregivers. But all are welcome and encouraged to come and to pray for those you know who are suffering in any way. Whether the suffering be from physical or mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse or addiction of any kind, you are invited to come and to pray together with Cardinal O'Malley for yourself or for your loved ones.

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