The Most Rev. Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange, anointed ill patients with holy oil and blessed the hands of caregivers with holy water from the consecrated grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, France last week, during the World Day of the Sick Mass at St. Columban Church in Garden Grove.
This grotto is the site of 18 appearances of Mary, the mother of Jesus, to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 and is well known for the divine healing power of its waters, known as “Lourdes Water.”
The Orange Chapter of the Order of Malta, the ancient Catholic religious order founded in 1050 AD, hosted this annual event.
“Caring for the sick and infirmed is the ministry we are all called to as Christians,” said Bishop Vann. “As a society many of the dedicated people who care for the most vulnerable are not given the appreciation their service merits. I value the important commitment of caregivers to their ministry and look forward to blessing them with the healing water of Lourdes,” he said prior to the Mass. He also anointed several critically ill patients and prayed for their spiritual and physical strength.
The anointing of the sick is administered by an ordained priest who anoints the body with holy oil. This rite is one of the seven sacred sacraments. A sacrament is a ritual performed in the Roman Catholic Church to confer grace through the Holy Spirit.
About the Order of Malta:
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta, better known as the Order of Malta, is an ancient religious Catholic Order founded in Jerusalem in 1048 AD. The Order has long focused on its Hospitaller works aimed at helping the sick and the poor. Its own Rule borrows from the Rule of St. Benedict and the Benedictine tradition. It operates in over 40 countries throughout the world and sponsors thousands of projects.
The Western Association of the Order in the United States was formed 55 years ago, has over 700 members and is headquartered in San Francisco. The Order of Malta Orange County with 75 members is part of the Western Association, which includes both Knights and Dames, primarily from California, Arizona and Washington states.
The Western Association’s charitable activities include volunteer hours and financial contributions in support of free clinics, parish nurse programs, Hurricane Katrina relief, tsunami relief, pilgrimage to Lourdes, hospitaller grants to local charities and Defense of the Faith grants.