Above and beyond care will be instructed at a pastoral care training workshop
By Alistair Burns
Special to The B.C. Catholic
The Catholic Health Association of B.C. (CHABC) is reaching out by offering a training workshop for the next generation of pastoral care volunteers. These people will provide a ministry of care and counselling to people of all faiths, especially seniors and the dying.
One of the speakers at the May 1 event will be Father William Ashley, pastor of Sts. Joachim and Ann Parish in Aldergrove. A former chaplain at Vancouver General Hospital, he is long accustomed to explaining Church precepts dealing with end-of-life issues.
He pointed out that by extraordinary care we mean care beyond what is required; giving ordinary care is morally obligatory. "Giving food and water is morally obligatory until such time as the body cannot absorb nutrition and hydration," he said.
Blessed Pope John Paul II considered this basic tenet vital, Father Ashley explained. He added, "To not feed or hydrate ... is tantamount to passive euthanasia; the sin of omission."
However, he stressed, there is not one hard and fast rule regarding care. Certain exceptions do arise. Sometimes, for example, if a cancer patient is fed and hydrated normally their body reacts poorly. Age may also be a factor. "It's a matter of applying the Church's teaching properly to each individual's circumstances."
The family of a patient close to death should call a chaplain or priest to administer the sacrament of the sick, especially, Father Ashley urged, before the patient slips into unconsciousness.
Another speaker at the workshop, to be held at St. Michael's Parish in Burnaby, will be Msgr. Bernard Rossi, the pastor of that parish and the representative of the bishops of B.C. to CHABC. Ministering to the sick, he said, is the "essence of the mission of the Church."
As the end of life approaches, the involvement of a pastoral care worker can be vital.
More information is available at 604-524-3427.