Anointing of the Sick: Celebrating the living at Saint Saviour’s

On Sunday the 10th of February, in early celebration of the International Day of the Sick instituted by Pope John Paul II 21 years ago, the Jerusalem parish and the Franciscan community of Saint Saviour’s came together to celebrate a special Mass.
A large attendance accompanied the members of the community whose health is the frailest. They were also able to envelope Brothers Basilio Talatinian OFM and Gabriel Baireyre OFM with their prayer and affection, the former celebrating his one-hundredth birthday, and the latter his 99th, as well as a number of Franciscan friars from the Custodial Infirmary who were also going to receive the Anointing of the Sick.
In his homily, the pastor of the parish, Brother Feras Hijazin OFM, recalled that the Sacrament of the Sick should not be frightening. It is not the sacrament of the dying, but of the living, which can heal body and soul. He was so encouraging, that most of the faithful assisting at the Mass came forward to receive the sacrament, having their foreheads and hands anointed with the holy oil.
According to Brother Artemio Vitores, Custodial Vicar and Guardian (superior) of Saint Saviour’s, “This celebration was as much a social act as a religious one. The entire parish community joined in prayer with them, even the children!”
At the end of the celebration, all the city’s institutions that care for the sick—Christian intuitions of all denominations, as well as Jewish and Muslim ones—were honored with a commemorative plaque in gratitude for what they do for the weakest among us. Most of the Christian religious communities had sent representatives—the Daughters of Charity, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition from St. Louis and St. Joseph Hospitals, the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, who work at the Custodial Infirmary, etc. A small delegation from the Jewish hospital Hadassah Mount Scopus was also present.
The quiet celebration was marked by fraternity and joy. And the entire joyful crowd was invited—for the first time—to come to the infirmary to share Brother Basilio’s and Brother Gabriel’s birthday cake.
“It was a beautiful time of ecclesiastical communion and Franciscan universalism. Everyone was able to come to the top floor of the convent, which looks out over Jerusalem, to share a fraternal moment. In fact, it was the normal prolongation of a liturgical celebration that should always be accompanied by a time of fraternity.”
At lunchtime, the Saint Saviour’s fraternity, which numbers some 80 friars, continued the celebration of Brother Basilio’s century and Brother Gabriel’s 99 years in familial intimacy, not forgetting, too, Brother Armando Pierucci’s 67th birthday.

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