Inside the Hospice: The Good Samaritan

By Fr Peter-Michael Scott

I am not really conscious of how I enter a patient’s room in the hospice. I just breeze in and instinctively absorb lots of clues to help me understand who the patient is. Religious statues or rosaries on the bedside cabinet tell me the patient has a faith, pictures of family inform me that they are part of a household, and magazines or books mean they are not too muddled by medication or illness.

I am, however, conscious of my compassion towards them, of trying to be like the Good Samaritan. I see tremendous witness of compassion by hospice staff and carers. Compassion is a beautiful gift. It means that someone has care and concern and that they have pity for an individual who is suffering.

‘Compassion’ and ‘pity’ have Latin roots. Compassion comes from the Latin compati which means to ‘suffer with’, and pity from piety which means ‘devotion or attentiveness’. Neither word implies that we should treat those who are sick as inferior, weak or inadequate. Rather, we love them as equals, members of God’s family, and we seek to serve and carry them.

Seeking to serve the sick, to appreciate them as equals and heirs to the Kingdom of God, is the theme of a diocesan formation period which will begin with the cathedral Mass in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes on 11 February, to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Sick. Our guide will be the Good Samaritan who acted with compassion, bandaged and anointed, lifted up, and brought the roadside injured from isolation back into the community (an inn in this instance).

The formation period will end in July with the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes. This year the theme of the pilgrimage is ‘The Almighty has done great things for me’.

By the end of the diocesan formation period aimed at serving the sick, we will have acknowledged how we do great things for others.

I see that every day in the hospice, I work with remarkable Good Samaritans.

Please pray for the patients, staff and volunteers of St Joseph’s Hospice.