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Bishop Checchio brings healing to Saint Peter’s University Hospital
February 22, 2018
NEW BRUNSWICK — Twelve-year old Chrys Rodriguez, a patient in the pediatric unit at Saint Peter’s University Hospital said he felt, “really good and special” to have Bishop James F. Checchio visit him. “He told me you pray for me and I’ll pray for you,” Rodriguez added.
Bishop Checchio visited patients at the diocesan sponsored hospital Feb. 11 to commemorate World Day of the Sick. Instituted by then-Pope, now St. John Paul II, World Day of the Sick is celebrated every year on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
“For all believers, it seeks to be a special time of prayer and of offering up one’s suffering,” proclaimed the Holy Father.
The feast of Our Lady of Lourdes was chosen because many pilgrims and visitors to Lourdes have been healed by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
World Day of the Sick, when many receive the Anointing of the Sick, one of the Church’s seven sacraments, has three purposes: first, to remind the faithful to pray for those who are sick; second, to invite Christians to reflect upon and respond to human suffering, and third, to recognize and honor all persons who work in the health care field and serve as caretakers.
Bishop Checchio began his visit to Saint Peter’s in the chapel, which was filled with employees and volunteers. He presided at Mass concelebrated by Father Joemar Garboso, the hospital chaplain.
In his homily, the bishop remarked, “We can’t face our challenges in life on our own, especially illnesses. We need Jesus, and we are equally dependent on other people to get us through the difficulties of our lives as well. We need to remember the importance of surrounding ourselves with people of faith who will pray for us, intercede for us, encourage us, and help us overcome difficult moments.”
The bishop entrusted the sick to the Blessed Mother, asking for her intercession on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and praying that she would be with them and hold them close to her heart. “I’m blessed to be here today at Saint Peter’s Hospital for this World Day of the Sick. Saint Peter’s does such extraordinary work taking care of the sick. They care for not only physical health, but also for patients in a spiritual way. I’m grateful to be part of this great effort today.”
After the Mass, the bishop visited and prayed with several oncology and pediatric patients. Those he prayed with were surprised and uplifted by the visit.
Helen Greczek, a patient whose grandson, Jeff, is a staff accountant in the diocesan Office of Finance, is a member of Holy Family Parish, New Brunswick. She is a long-time member of the parish’s Altar and Rosary Sodality.
“I’m very surprised that the bishop would take the time to go around visiting,” she said. “I’m sure he has plenty of other things that are more important to do. This was something I didn’t expect. It really made me feel that God was with me and I know he was.”
Richard Alfonzo, an oncology patient, received a blessing from the bishop. He and his wife, Jane, have been married 40 years and are members Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Milltown. Jane commented, “This is such a devastating time for us. It was amazing for the bishop to be here to spend time and pray with someone who is so ill. He really is a shot in the arm for us all.”
Staff and patients of Saint Peter’s appeared excited by the bishop’s visit and his words of thanks and encouragement. After the patient visits, Bishop Checchio attended a reception to meet and talk to them.
“The care of the mind, body and soul is a very important ministry for us, and to be able to join in prayer with the bishop on this day, to pray for not only the sick, but also those who care for the sick, is very meaningful to us,’’ said Edna Argüello Hitchner, a member of St. Matthias Parish, Somerset, who helped plan the liturgy and works in the Marketing and Media Relations Department at Saint Peter’s. She directs a choir made up of employees who minister at liturgies celebrated in the hospital chapel.
While at the hospital, the Bishop Checchio also took time to tape a message of thanks and encouragement for all those who follow the hospital’s Facebook page.
By Karen Corpora, Correspondent at The Catholic Spirit