Father Angelo Amaral, chaplain of Morris Hall, was principal celebrant of the Mass to mark the diocesan commemoration of World Day of the Sick Feb. 11. John Blaine photo
Father Angelo Amaral, chaplain of Morris Hall, was principal celebrant of the Mass to mark the diocesan commemoration of World Day of the Sick Feb. 11. John Blaine photo

By Lois Rogers | Correspondent

Well before the start of Mass in the chapel of Morris Hall, Lawrenceville, residents gathered not only inside the sacred space but in the spacious hallway outside and upstairs choir loft for prayer and fellowship.

“Everyone would like to receive the anointing,” Lee Tagliaferri said before the Feb. 11 Mass commemorating  World Day of the Sick, which includes the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Tagliaferri and fellow residents Betty Leedom and Marianite of Holy Cross Sister Sylvia Asseline shared their enthusiasm for the observance and noted the importance of having daily access to the Sacraments. Each described it as a key reason for choosing to live in the Morris Hall community.

“In order to get to the dining room, residents have to pass by the chapel six times a day,” Tagliaferri said. “It’s six opportunities a day for Eucharistic Adoration.”

Leedom, a bubbly resident of St. Joseph Skilled Nursing, nodded her head in agreement. “If you pass by the chapel, it’s very hard not to go in,” she said.

Added Sister Sylvia, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, “The reason we came here is for health and wellness.”

Sharing In Faith

The World Day of the Sick commemoration, organized by the diocesan Department of Pastoral Care, included a Mass celebrated by Father Angelo Amaral, Morris Hall chaplain, and concelebrants Msgr. Hugh Ronan, Msgr. Ralph Stansley and Father Daniel G. Cahill. Afterward, they dispersed throughout the campus, anointing all residents unable to attend the liturgy.

In his homily, Father Amaral spoke of the blessings associated with Morris Hall being a place where medicine melds with faith and sacramental observance.

“Receiving the anointing is God’s blessing,” he said, noting how the commemoration was instituted by St. John Paul II in 1992, himself a “beautiful, redemptive” reflection of the power of the “sick and suffering to unite with the Cross of Christ.” He encouraged the faithful to “call upon Mary to ask for her intercession in healing of the body, mind, spirit and soul.”

Further, he asked for “prayer for all those who dedicate themselves to the care of the sick and work in ministries that serve the sick. It is a beautiful trust,” he said, to know that Jesus is here for us … and that Mary brings our cares and needs to Jesus.”

Precious Memories

After Mass, residents Sarah Hoffman and Celia Ghazi expressed their appreciation for being a part of the celebration, held yearly on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

“People who are sick need prayer, and I looked forward to this Mass for a long time,” said Hoffman, who lives in the Grace Garden Assisted Living and Memory Care on the second floor of Morris Hall. “I feel right at home here.”

Ghazi lives in one of the houses in The Meadows, an innovative and contemporary approach to nursing home care where residents and their relatives have input into the communal style of living. Her son, who is a physician, researched facilities before they settled on The Meadows, she explained.

“He wanted a place where he felt I would be well looked after,” Ghazi said. “I wanted some place that was very Catholic. I was brought up in a Catholic home and schools. I wanted to follow my religion.”

The residents form family bonds, she said. “We help one another, we care for one another in Christ’s name.”