Celebrating the sacrament of anointing of the sick is a normal occurrence in a hospital. So much so, in fact, that Anneke and the rest of the Star Service staff have the phone numbers for all of the on-call staff at the local Catholic church on file at the service desk. Whenever a patient or their family decides it’s time to celebrate the sacrament, Anneke calls the church and makes an appointment for the priest to come to the hospital.
Sue came to the Errand Solutions desk to make arrangements for a priest to come to the hospital and offer the sacrament to her mother.
“She’d like to see a priest,” Sue said. “I don’t think it’s an emergency just yet, but her doctor doesn’t think she’s going to get any better.”
Anneke nodded and took the number of the room Sue’s mother was in, promising to call the church for Sue.
Anneke called the church office and spoke with the administrative assistant. She gave her the name of Sue’s mother, her room number, and told her about the situation. An appointment was made for the next morning, and Anneke sent a message to Sue telling her what time to expect the priest.
Late the next afternoon, Sue returned to the Errand Solutions desk. “The priest didn’t make it over last night,” she said. “I talked to my mother’s doctor this morning, and he doesn’t think she has much time left. Could you call again and see if he’s coming?”
“Absolutely,” Anneke said. “I’ll give them another call right now.” Sue still looked worried. Anneke, knowing how important it is for both patients and their family members to feel comfort, especially on a spiritual level, at times like this, tried to reassure Sue. “Something probably came up at the church last night,” she said.
“I’m sure he’ll be here soon, but I’ll give them another call. Go be with your mother, I’ll take care of this.”
Once Sue left, Anneke called the church, only to by answered by the machine. The office had closed down for the evening already. Knowing how important this was for Sue and her mother, Anneke dug through her files to find the numbers for the on-call staff at the church. After several tries, Anneke reached a member of the church staff and told her about Sue and her mother. “It wasn’t an emergency last night,” Anneke explained, “but things got worse overnight, and they’d really like to see a priest as soon as possible.”
“Okay,” the staffer said. “I’ll call Father and send him over right away.” Anneke hung up reassured and turned to her other work.
A few hours passed, and Anneke neither saw a priest walk in nor heard from Sue. Her coworkers were getting ready to go home for the evening, but she sat at the desk shuffling paperwork. She wanted to be there in case Sue came back asking about the priest. Just before seven, Anneke looked up to see a man wearing a Roman collar under a cardigan walking down the hall. Relieved, she finally packed up her bag and headed home for the night.
The next morning, Anneke looked up to see Sue coming to the desk again. She was worried for a minute – she was sure she had seen the priest walking by last night. Sue quickly relieved her fears.
“Thank you so much for finding a priest for us,” she said. She told Anneke about the celebration of the sacrament and how her mother had been able to participate.“It was beautiful,” she added. “She wouldn’t have been able to do that this morning. Her organs deteriorated so much overnight that I don’t think she would have even known a priest was in the room if he had come this morning.”