Sick Call Policy
Thursday, June 10, 2021
I write you to bring to your attention what San Isidro's policy is in regard to receiving the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. We have recently been geƫng a high number of requests for visits to the sick suggesting that other area priests are not visiting the sick due to fears of catching the virus. This is among the most challenging sacrament to administer in part because it is misunderstood by the faithful. Many are not clear when it should be administered, who can request it, and what priest is responsible and under what circumstances. Because of these misunderstandings, the faithful place undue pressure and stress on Staff and priests.
To be eligible for the sacrament, one must be in a state of grace and have led and still be leading a faithful Christian, Catholic life (such as active mass attendance). This means if married, they must be married in the Church and if single, not living “free style.” In addition, there must be at minimum, an implicit or explicit desire to receive the sacrament if the person was of sound mind. It is not proper that family request the sacrament knowing full well the person was not a faithful Catholic and/or would not have desired it. Family (and in some rare cases, some friends) can assess the spiritual readiness of a loved on who is sick because of age, wounds, and/or disease to receive the sacrament. Therefore, not everyone qualifies if the contrary is observed. We need to ensure that the person receiving the sacrament be properly disposed. We can only honor the sick call of a loved one from immediate family members and not from a “friend of a friend.” The faithful should contact the Church once someone is diagnosed or begins to show illness or at minimum is of old age. One should not wait until the person is gravely ill or at the point of death. The ordinary priest doing anointings often is busy with parish life and administrative or pastoral work on any given day. In effect, due consideration of the priest's time and health should be taken into account when someone requests an anointing.
In a pandemic, some priests cannot do anointings. One should also take into account if an infirmed person has a contagious disease. This must be made known to the parish so as to not endanger the priest's life. In cases where the person lives outside of the immediate parish vicinity or outside the parish boundaries, some guidelines are in order:
- Does the person live more than 15 minutes from the parish?
- If so, is there a nearby Catholic Church that could possibly service the ill person that is less than 15 minutes away? If so, that parish should be contacted.
If the person requesting the sacrament is a parishioner of San Isidro, we request you contact the nearby parish first and San Isidro as an alternative if the parish cannot attend the sick person right away. One must take into mind that the average anointing may take up to 90 minutes to do due to:
- If it is a hospital anointing, finding a suitable parking space.
- Security clearance in the hospital.
- Pastoral conversation with patient and/or family.
- Performing the actual anointing rite.
- Drive back to parish
San Isidro is best prepared to serve the following hospitals due to proximity:
Northwest Medical Regional and Broward Health North (this hospital is serviced primarily by St Elizabeth of Hungary parish but San Isidro serves as a backup). San Isidro also services the communities of Pompano Beach, Coconut Creek, East Coral Springs, North Lauderdale, and parts of Margate. All other cities fall within the boundaries of local parishes. Parishioners of San Isidro living outside of these areas will depend upon the discretion of the priest and his schedule and health. To the contrary, families who live more than 15 minutes away from San Isidro are encouraged to contact the nearest parish based on the sick person's address and most especially in the case of an emergency. If it is any hospital other than the two mentioned, families can ask the attending nurse to contact a Catholic Priest (most know how to contact a Chaplain).
We are not in the practice of turning down requests for an anointing especially if there is a real emergency, but we have been receiving recently many requests to go to as far South as Aventura and as far north as Delray Beach and Boca when these areas do not pertain to the parish and/or Diocese.
I hope these guidelines can assist in determining when it is appropriate to contact San Isidro and when it is appropriate to look for another viable alternative. We will do our very best to accommodate all reasonable requests once these guidelines have been taken into account.
Thank you and God bless you.
Fr. Wilfredo Contreras