SASKATOON — Bishop Bryan Bayda encouraged those attending the annual Compassionate Healers Mass in Saskatoon to evangelize the world by sharing their stories of encountering Jesus Christ.
“Some say talk is cheap, yet personal accounts and witnessing to encounters of meeting Christ carry a great deal of power,” said Bayda in his homily at the annual event.
“Reflect on how you have encountered Christ, particularly in those who are suffering,” Bayda challenged those attending the Sept. 29 event at the Ukrainian Catholic Parish of the Dormition of the Blessed Mother of God.
The Compassionate Healers Mass is organized by the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan in three Saskatchewan dioceses each fall, for all those who are involved in the medical or health fields, or who provide care or outreach to the sick, whether as professionals, staff members, administrators, volunteers, parishioners or family members.
“Your real-life stories of encounters with Christ become a powerful witness and act of mercy to others who may feel alone as they face challenges in their lives — who discover, in fact, that they are not alone,” said Bayda. “God is mercifully with us and present to us through each other, facing challenges in the context of evangelization.”
Bayda emphasized the need to bring Jesus to those who are suffering, and to relieve the pain of loneliness.
Bayda also read a recent message to Canadian citizens from the Catholic Bishops of Canada on the issue of assisted suicide, which was issued Sept. 18 during the recent plenary gathering of the CCCB.
“We give thanks for the thousands of women and men from all across our land who have given their lives to their brothers and sisters through prayer, health care, education, and other works of service and solidarity with the poor and marginalized,” read Bayda.
“Moved by the powerful example of their generosity and how they have promoted and protected human dignity in many sectors of society, we affirm our nation’s long tradition of caring for the sick and the vulnerable,” stated the Canadian bishops, before going on to address the question of assisted suicide.
“We cannot but express our outrage at the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada to create a new ‘constitutional right’ in Canada, the so-called ‘right’ to suicide. Nor can we suppress our profound dismay, disappointment and disagreement with the court’s decision.”
The ruling legalizes the taking of innocent life, stressed the Canadian bishops’ statement. “It puts at risk the lives of the vulnerable, the depressed, those with physical or mental illness, and those with disabilities.”
The bishops continued: “In the face of the terrible suffering that can be caused by illness or depression, a truly human response should be to care, not to kill. Likewise, the response to the anguish and fear people can experience at the end of their lives is to be present to them, offering palliative care, not intentionally to cause their death.”
The need for palliative care should be one of the most pressing issues in the country, according to the CCCB statement, which points out the silence on this vitally important issue during the present federal election campaign.
“We urge all the citizens of our country to raise this question of life and death at meetings with candidates, to stimulate a true debate worthy of our great country,” stated the bishops.
The bishops also emphasized the need to uphold and protect the conscience rights of all those who work as caregivers or health care providers. “It is an affront to the conscience and vocation of the health care provider to require him or her to collaborate in the intentional putting to death of a patient, even by referring the person to a colleague.”
The bishops concluded by calling for “a spirit of collaboration in building a society more compassionate, more respectful of the dignity of all human life, more just and more generous.”
The Compassionate Healers Mass included a blessing, in which participants came forward to have their hands anointed, as they recommitted themselves to the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.
At the conclusion of the celebration, Therese Jelinski, president of the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHAS), described the reasons for the annual event. “This Compassionate Healers Mass allows us to focus on the healing ministry of Christ, and it strengthens our vision to be a faith community sharing in this healing ministry. It is also a time to enjoy gathering together, celebrating with and commissioning those who work and volunteer in the provision of health care.”
Jelinski closed with an invitation to the CHAS conference in Prince Albert Oct. 19