PCS 170: Lay Ministry to a Dying Child

The Church foresees a broad ministry, as we’ve read earlier in this document. It includes not only lay people as proper ministers, but individuals in the medical professions as well:

170. At such a time, it is important for members of the Christian community to come to the support of the child and the family by prayer, visits, and other forms of assistance. Those who have lost children of their own have a ministry of consolation and support to the family. Hospital personnel (doctors, murses, aides) should also be prepared to exercise a special role as caring adults. Priests and deacons bear particular responsibility for overseeing all these elements in the church’s pastoral ministry. The minister should invite members of the community to use their individual gifts in this work of communal care and concern.


Prayer and visitation are the first two examples of how the faith community cares for a dying child.

Note the role of those who have already lost children. The Church embraces a healthy process of healing here. The suffering are comforted not by ordained ministry alone, but importantly, by those who have walked the road of suffering and have their own perspective to offer.

The medical profession exercises a ministerial role, a part of an overall effort to care for the child.

The role of the clergy is oversight. That oversight extends to the calling of the giftedness of others in the community, of drawing it out from among the members. This is contrary to much of the busy nature of ministry, that the activities of individual believers matter as much as the calling of gifted people, and the broad organization of a collective and communal ministry. Are seminarians prepared for this kind of work?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Pastoral Care of the Sick, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

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