You may never have seen it or not even know about it, but the Lakeshore General Hospital has an interfaith chapel that was inaugurated this past year 2006. Its benches hold 20 to 30 people and there is an altar. At the back there is a section for praying without shoes made especially for Muslims or for anyone wanting to pray without shoes.
Next week all over the world Christians will begin observing the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, while in Canada and other countries Christians will observe the week with two weekends bookending January 25, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The Pastoral Services Team of the Lakeshore General Hospital has just sent out today to dozens of Religious leaders in the West Island and beyond an invitation to offer a prayer and worship service on one of the days from January 18 to 25 inclusive. Councils of churches worldwide have prepared the materials for prayer and worship gathering together Christians of all denominations throughout the week. Non-Christians are also welcome to attend these services, as it is in their interest that Christians become more united; as this will enhance peace among people and nations.
We've also invited these religious leaders to offer a prayer and worship service on one of the days during the week leading up to the World Day of the Sick on February 11, which would be on any of the days from February 3 to the 11. The purpose of this day - and we thought that a week would allow more people to participate and benefit the hospital population - is to affirm and raise the dignity of those who are sick, to commend those who care for and attend them, and to encourage their family and friends. Read Pope Benedict's message (another version) on the occasion of this 15th World Day of the Sick.
Naturally, people of all faiths and spiritual values are welcome to participate in these manifestations of solidarity, support, and prayer. As religious leaders respond to this invitation and offer to lead prayer and worship services on particular days and at specific times, we will draw up a calendar and begin to publicize it as soon as we can. You will find it on this blog as soon as it is ready.
With time we hope to better prepare such weeks and events, but since Fr. Michael Tauro and I are only part-time, we prefer to spend most of our time visiting patients. Exceptionally, I have spent two days setting up an email list of religious leaders and sending out our invitation to them. If you go to this link you will see that full time chaplains who have been at work for some time have prepared wonderful resources (more resources) to enhance our care for the sick and their care givers.
Feel free to let other people know about these events and to make use of this blog entry to help you pass on this information.
"He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak" (Mark 7: 31-37) is the theme of the 2007 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. An annual event, the Week of Prayer is a significant time during which churches around the world express their longing for and commitment to Christian unity. You will find this and other texts at the World Council of Churches website.
If it's been a while since you gathered with Christians of other denominations to pray, chat, share or collaborate on a common project, why not talk it up with friends and consider coming together to participate in a little prayer and worship service during one or both of these two weeks, for the benefit of the patients and their families at the hospital, as well as the medical and support staff and administration, not to mention all those who come in for ambulatory care.
Prayer for others is a powerful instrument for good because it is motivated by love and taps into the very heart of the Blessed Trinity, source of all life and being. Contact your pastor and ask whether they intend to participate or even offer to lead a prayer and worship service and maybe you can offer to help or assist them.
Whatever you are able and choose to do, may the blessing of Almighty God fill you and rest upon you and your families, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever.