FALL RIVER — The end of May marks the halfway point of the 80th Catholic Appeal of the Diocese of Fall River and as of press time, the annual campaign has raised $2 million. The Appeal is currently halfway to its $4 million goal to support the agencies, programs, and ministries of the diocese.
One of the largest diocesan ministries funded by gifts to the Catholic Appeal is Pastoral Care of the Sick. Contributions to the Appeal help make a group of full-time and part-time chaplains available for patients in all of the hospitals in the Diocese of Fall River in all five deaneries: Attleboro, Taunton, New Bedford, Fall River, and Cape Cod. Chaplains offer a much-needed presence through their visits, distribution of Communion, and administration of the Sacrament of the Sick to thousands of people every year. This important ministry carries out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy for the sick and the dying and brings the words of Sacred Scripture to life: “I was sick and you visited me” (Mt 25:36).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals had to enact strict visitation policies — and for many patients feeling the pain of isolation from family and friends, the warmth and support of hospital chaplains quickly became their sole source of comfort. According to Father Thomas Kocik, Chaplain to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, simply being by a patient’s side makes a tremendous difference, especially during a time when visitation restrictions have kept them separated from their loved ones.
“The hospital chaplains were there; praying with (patients), providing Spiritual counsel and the grace of the Sacraments, blessing them, and I can tell you that our presence has been deeply appreciated,” said Father Kocik, who noted that hospital chaplains are a caring and compassionate source of Spiritual support for non-patients, as well. “My ministry is not restricted to the sick and the dying,” he added. “I also minister to their families, relatives, loved ones, and hospital staff in some instances.”
In addition to making pastoral care for patients and families available at our hospitals, gifts to the Appeal also help fund pastoral care for residents at our diocesan health facilities, including nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.
This year you can watch a series of “Ministry Moments” videos featuring individuals reflecting on good works supported by the Catholic Appeal. The series, which includes Father Kocik talking about Pastoral Care of the Sick, can be found on the Catholic Foundation’s website: www.catholicfoundationsema.org/ministry-moments.
Contributions to the Catholic Appeal, which runs through June 30, may be made through a one-time donation or through monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual pledges. Donations may be mailed directly to the Catholic Foundation office, 450 Highland Avenue, Fall River, Mass., 02720, made online at www.givefrdiocese.org/2021, or dropped off at any parish in the diocese. Please contact the Catholic Foundation office at 508-675-1311 with any questions.