During the liturgy, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, thanked health care workers for their compassion and what they do to bring comfort and healing to people in pain and distress.
All: CHRIS SILVA/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
'All life is in the hands of God,' bishop tells health care workers
For the first time, the Diocese of Oakland offered a Mass of thanksgiving and appreciation for health care workers at the Cathedral of Christ the Light.
After participating in a Cursillo a few years ago, Elia Saabedra decided to go into nursing as a way to live her faith in a deeper way.
"I wanted to work in God's kingdom," she said.
The registered nurse, who is currently employed at a convalescent facility in Oakland's Fruitvale district, finds great pleasure and satisfaction caring for the sick. At the same time, however, the work is often stressful and is demanding both physically and spiritually.
"I always pray to God so that I can do whatever I can for the older people" in her care, said Saabedra, who attends St. Leander Parish in San Leandro. "Whatever God wants me to do, I am there."
That's why she accepted a friend's invitation to attend a Mass of thanksgiving and appreciation for health care workers at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland on Oct. 29.
During the liturgy, Saabedra and dozens of others who chose to serve as caregivers and health care professionals heard Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, thank them for the compassionate and selfless work that they do to bring comfort and healing to people in pain and distress.
"You are experts in science and medicine and care but as many of you who have been in this profession have told me, healing is still a mystery," the bishop said. Sometimes, he added "your diagnosis and treatment of a patient works and they are healed" and sometimes, the person does not heal.
"All life is in the hands of God. It is also true that when people cry out to God in pain when they are sick and suffering and when they besiege God for help he hears their cry and he sends them you. You are the instruments of God's love and mercy to a suffering world. You are Christ's hands and feet in a hurting world," Bishop Barber said.
Besides their considerable scientific skills, the bishop, who also served as a chaplain while assigned to a Navy hospital in Virginia, noted that as Christians, caregivers and health workers bring "Jesus' love and mercy to your patients by your smile, by your kindness, by your love, but especially by your prayer."
He also encouraged health care workers to pray for their patients and sometimes to pray with them. "Remember that human beings are not just bodies we are bodies and souls. We are spiritual beings."
Rev. Paulette Anthony, a member of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland and a longtime hospital chaplain, expressed her appreciation to the organizers of the Thanksgiving Mass for health care workers. "We put out a lot especially in the hospitals and rest homes where there is a lot of death and dying and serious illnesses," she said.
"We all need prayer. We are no different," Rev. Anthony said. "Sometimes we need to take a moment for self-care as well."
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