One of the great strengths of the Celebration of the World Day of the Sick in different parts of the Archdiocese is that it gives people who, due to illness of the onset of age, cannot travel very far. There will be some who will travel a distance to join the celebration, but the majority of the people, especially the sick whom the day is focussed on, will come from your local community and from the care institutions in your locality.

There are voluntary organisations who will give of their time and expertise to collect people and care for them during the Mass. Their involvement has allowed a greater number of people to be present and to know that should they feel unwell during the Mass, they will receive the attention that they need.

Welcome and hospitality are key elements in the any Parish gathering. With so many people gathering in your Parish Church who may not be familiar with it, these elements will make them feel like important guests to your home.

There are many aspects to the day which need careful planning and which will draw out the very best in your Parish. This guide will give you an overview of each of these and is based on the experience gained over the last number of year.

Planning Group

As early as possible you should establish a planning group, drawing people from the different organisations in your Parish who will provide expertise. The following is a list of the areas you will need to cover.

  • Communication
  • Record Keeping
  • Catering
  • Environment
  • Liturgy
  • Music
  • Leaflets
  • Stewarding
  • Ministers of the Word
  • Ministers of the Eucharist
  • Altar Servers
  • Oil Bearers
  • Gift Bearers
  • Welcoming Committee
  • Sacristans
  • Parish Secretary
  • Priests

In early January a resource pack will go to every Parish, Hospital and Care Institution throughout the Archdiocese. Like with most mass mailings, it only receives attention if the person who reads it is involved in what they read. Extra copies of the poster for the Mass in your Parish will be sent to you. The work of your communication group is 1: to highlight the celebration in your area; 2: to contact and personally invite sick people in your Parish and surrounding Parishes to the Mass; 3: to contact all the care institutions, out to about a three mile radius from your Parish, invite and facilitate them to attend; 4: to contact all the Parishes in your Deanery and highlight the event with them; 5: to contact the Priests in the area to join in the celebration and assist in the Sacrament of the Sick.

Signs in the local area are helpful to people who may not be familiar with where your Church is located. A company that has provided signs in the past and to great effect is Rennicks, who have set up their electronic road sign pointing the way

Record Keeping
It is essential when a care institution is contacted that a record is kept of the number, names and mobility of the people who wish to attend. It is also necessary to follow this up twice before the day of the Mass and especially the day before, as people may drop out due to illness, family visits or unforeseen circumstances. The care institutions should be given a name and contact number for the Parish should they have any questions. This information will be very important for the voluntary organisations to arrange collection and care of these people.

This day is about celebrating the place of the sick in the Church. We try to do everything to ensure the best possible care for those who are invited. As the time from collection to returning home can be up to three and a half hours many people will welcome something to eat and drink after the Mass. The catering is quite substantial, consisting of sandwiches, buns, biscuits, tea, coffee, water etc. It has been the experience that about half the congregation will stay for the hospitality after the Mass while the rest tend to head off immediately. The World Day of the Sick Committee will cover the cost of the catering.

Creating the right tone for the celebration has to be carefully worked out. Because there will be many people in wheelchairs, a sizeable open space will be needed for them. As it is the springtime, it may be still chilly outside. To have the Church nicely heated and to have someone monitoring the heat during the Mass in case it gets too warm will be important. Flowers, banners, cloths and a lack of clutter set the area for good liturgy and prepare all present to enter into an encounter with the risen Lord.

The Liturgy will follow the guidelines given in the general introduction to the Roman Missal and the Rite for the Anointing of the Sick within Mass. There is a members of the World Day of the Sick Committee who will meet with you in planning the Mass and the Master of Ceremonies to the Archbishop will come out in the week prior to the Mass for a full liturgical practice.

The celebration of the Sacrament of Anointing within Mass is a very rich celebration which touches not only those who are anointed but everyone who is present in the Church. It is time to pray for and express our solidarity with those who are sick, and prepare them to meet the Lord in the Sacrament. It is an occasion to celebrate, but one in which we must also remember that for many who are sick to remain in the one place for too long can become very uncomfortable.

Entrance Procession:
This procession gives us an opportunity to highlight the meaning of today’s celebration which has begun in the preparation of the environment and will culminate in the Anointing of the Sick and celebration of the Eucharist. This procession allows us to highlight the care that is given to the sick by the presentation of symbols, especially symbols of faith which sustains so many. It is a procession which should highlight the Word of God and be a movement which opens us up to the dignity and joy of the sacraments we are about to celebrate. Symbols brought in procession should speak for themselves and not need a spoken explanation.

Liturgy of the Word:
As the celebration takes place on a Sunday the readings of the Sunday must be used unless they are not suitable. However if it is a Sunday during Lent there is no discretion about changing the readings. In both cases, however, any changes must be with the permission of the Archbishop. The minister of the Word should be one who proclaims the Word in your Church every Sunday and where possible there should be a different reader for each of the readings. The responsorial psalm and gospel acclamation should be sung, and if there is a soloist, they should sing from the ambo where the word is proclaimed. The Book of Gospels should have come up in procession and the Gospel proclaimed by a Deacon or a Priest, other than the Archbishop. After the proclamation of the Gospel, the Book of Gospels should be returned to the Altar or accommodated in a suitable place rather than hidden under the ambo. The Rite of Blessing of the Oil contains prayers of intercession so ordinarily there is no Prayer of the Faithful.

Liturgy of Anointing: contains the following elements:

  • Litany of Prayer
  • Laying on of Hands
  • Prayer over the Oil
  • Anointing
  • Prayer after Anointing

Litany of Prayer: as mentioned above, this takes the place of the Prayer of the Faithful.
Laying on of Hands: In the Rite it is envisioned that each person who is to be anointed would also have hands laid upon them. In such large gatherings it is not possible for the Priest to go to each person so the laying on of hands is done from the Altar. However, if the sick person is accompanied that person should place their hands on the sick persons shoulder at this point in the ceremony.
Prayer over the Oil: The oil used today should not be blessed before the Mass. It is good for the oil to be presented for blessing then the Priest to be accompanied to those who are to be anointed. As there are usually many to be anointed it is desirable to have twenty people to come in procession, at this point in the ceremony, with a bowl of oil to be blessed and to gather around the Altar for the prayer of blessing. They should also have a laminated card with the words  “N. Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you by the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin, save you and raise you up.” The people who could undertake this part of the ceremony could be drawn from the senior cycle of your post primary school, particularly if they have been involved with the Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes and/or people who care for the sick in your community eg: doctors, nurse home carers etc. After the oil has been blessed they should bring the Priest to a pre-assigned part of the Church to anoint those who are sick.

Prayer after Anointing: when all the sick have been anointed, the Archbishop will lead the prayer after anointing.

Preparation of the Gifts: The gifts presented at this time should only be the bread and wine to be consecrated in the Mass. However if you have the tradition of dressing the Altar this may also be done.

Distribution of Holy Communion: The people who accompanied the Priests earlier could again bring them to the same place for Holy Communion. This is also applicable if you use a mixture of Priests and Eucharistic Ministers. As you will have many visitors, your arrangements for those who are celiac will have to be announced and a minister/priest designated to look after their needs.

Notices/Collections: After the prayer after communion, a member of your Parish may wish to read the notices for your Parishioner and invite people for refreshments. We would ask that you would forego your collection at this Mass as it is a Mass where you have invited people to share around your table.

Music: In the preparation of the Music for this celebration please contact the Diocesan Director of Music at the Liturgical Resource Centre (Tel. 01 8087554). As it is a Diocesan event they will be involved in assisting you before and on the day itself.

Leaflets: To encourage participation in the Liturgical Music and to mark this as a special event in your Parish, it is good to have a leaflet for all those in attendance. It does not have to contain the text of the whole Mass but could focus on the words of the hymns and the Rite of Anointing.

Stewarding: As you will have many people unfamiliar with your Church and Car Park, it is necessary to have people to direct traffic, ensure safe parking and to designate an area for ambulances and people with special needs. In the layout of the Church priority should be given to the sick, with special areas allocated for wheelchairs, people who are hard of hearing or deaf, people who need to be close to a door etc. Each of these areas should also have a designated steward.

Ministers of the Word: Those who proclaim the Word of God in your Parish each Sunday should be the ones from whom the Minister of the Word is chosen, particularly if they have an association with the sick.

Ministers of the Eucharist: Those who minister the Eucharist regularly in your Parish may be chosen to assist the Priests. In particular those who bring communion to the sick and housebound. If you choose to have Ministers of the Eucharist there should be an equal number to the priests who are distributing Holy Communion. You will not need as many as were needed for the Anointing earlier, maybe a maximum of twelve, six Priests and six Ministers.

Altar Servers The ideal number of Altar Servers for this Mass is seven carrying out the following roles: Thurible, Incense, Cross, 2 Candles, Book, Mitre. They will also look after the usual things. In the week before the Mass the Archbishop’s Master of Ceremonies will arrange to meet and go through the Mass with them. During your time of preparation a member of the World Day of the Sick Committee is also available to meet them.

Oil Bearers: In the presentation of the Oil, it is good to have people, especially young people, who are involved with the sick. There are a number of schools in the Archdiocese who send a group of pupils to assist with the Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes. As the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is World Day of the Sick, it would be good to involve these young people if they have an association with your Parish. Students from your local Post Primary Schools should also be encouraged to be involved in this as well as people who care for the sick in your Parish. Twenty is about the right number needed for this task.

Gift Bearers: There are two occasions during the ceremony when you can highlight the role of people involved with the sick. The entrance procession is a great opportunity to have them present symbols of care, compassion and faith. The Presentation of the Bread and Wine for the Eucharist is another opportunity. Through the use of several vessels, the Holy Communion for this Mass could be presented and consecrated at this Mass rather than recourse to the Tabernacle.

Welcoming Committee: There is a difference between those who are designated to welcome and those who are stewarding. There should be enough people to welcome so that everybody who enters your church will be personally greeted, given a leaflet and directed to one of the stewards. It makes a huge difference to feel that you are wanted in a place, particularly when you are sick and when you are entering an unfamiliar place.

Sacristans: There are many elements to this celebration and also a lot of people involved in the preparation and celebration. The one who needs most communication and understanding of what is required is the sacristan. More vessels are needed, more altar linen, more tables etc. and a simple checklist and involvement at meetings can make a huge difference on the day.

Parish Secretary: The main number that will be called looking for details and information will be your Parish Office. This will be particularly important if people are looking to be picked up for the ceremony. The Parish Secretary needs to know who to pass information onto, what arrangements have been made and take details of people who need to phoned back. In the lead up to the Celebration she will be an invaluable source of communication which is the key to success on the day.

Priests: Liturgy is about a community gathering together to worship as one body. All the different groups should meet and pray together so that each element forms part of the unity of prayer. The Priest/s of your Parish are very much part of this and need to be part of all that is going on and not just handed a list. They also have a role in contacting their colleagues in neighbouring Parishes to join in the celebration and administer the Sacrament of the Sick.

Voluntary Organisations: There are a number of voluntary organisations are willing to be involved on the day. They will collect people, look after them, provide First Aid, and drop the people home after the ceremony. The one thing that you must bear in mind is that if you ask them to be involved you must have something for them to do. If they are picking people up, you need the following information at least a week before:

Name; Address; Can they walk unaided; do they need help, are they in a wheelchair; do they have a carer with them. All of these pieces of information are vital.

  • The organisations are:The Order of Malta Ambulance Corps                   tel: 614 0033
  • St. John Ambulance Brigade of Ireland                  tel: 668 8077
  • (These will collect and drop people home)
  • Red Cross                                                             tel: 642 4600
  • Civil Defence                                                        tel: 677 2699
  • (These you have to ask what they can offer)Please contact them well in advance to let them know the date. They have all been involved before so they will know that you will only have definite requirements closer to the time. By letting them know early they can pencil into the various unit diaries that the Mass is on.




Set up committees to look after the various areas




Contact with care institutions




Contact Voluntary Organisations

Make Contact with Diocesan Director of Music


Make second contact with care institutions

Gather those involved in the Liturgy for a practice

Contact those doing the Catering

Posters will arrive in early January begin raising local awareness

Contact local Parishes

Contact Voluntary Organisations

Prepare and Print Leaflet