The Church has her own form of spiritual palliative care for the dying and for those who have been diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. What is generally called “the last rites” actually consists of the sacrament of Extreme Unction (the “last anointing”, also called the Anointing of the Sick) and the Apostolic (or Last) Blessing.
The Anointing of the Sick is reserved for those with very serious illnesses and cannot be received for temporary ailments or aches and pains. However, those who have been diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness, after making a good confession should receive this sacrament as soon as possible, as it does not only strengthen the soul, but even the body, as many priests will be able to attest. Catholics can receive this sacrament even when unconscious. Then the sacrament also removes the stain of sin from the soul in the place of a good confession, now no longer possible.
The Apostolic Blessing carries with it a plenary indulgence, which is to say that all punishment due to sin can be forgiven. In real terms, depending on the dispositions of the recipient, this is a “get out of gaol” card, by which one can avoid purgatory altogether and enter directly into eternal beatitude.
The priests at St Gerard’s are the chaplains to Dandenong Hospital and are on call 24/7. Patients or family should request hospital staff to send a page to pager number 7478.
Parishioners should contact the parish office directly to arrange for a priest to give the sacrament either at the church or at the sick person’s home. Please call the parish office on 9792 4422.