Parishes commit to ‘Caring for the Whole Person’

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SAN DIEGO — Among the 400 people who attended a diocesan Mass on Feb. 12 in observance of World Day of the Sick were 40 parish leaders of the Caring for the Whole Person initiative.

Developed in 2017, it’s a statewide initiative of California’s bishops and Catholic healthcare system that equips parishes to serve the sick and dying with support and referrals to community resources. The Church’s response to a societal push for physician-assisted suicide, this initiative is not a new ministry, but rather a way of helping parishes to better carry out their existing ministries to those at the end of life.

In the Diocese of San Diego, more than a dozen local parishes have implemented the initiative, including Mission San Diego de Alcalá, The Immaculata, Sacred Heart (San Diego), San Rafael, St. Francis of Assisi (Vista), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Chula Vista), St. Mark (San Marcos), Ascension, St. Brigid, St. Elizabeth Seton (Carlsbad), St. Vincent de Paul, and Immaculate Heart of Mary (Ramona) parishes.

At the World Day of the Sick Mass, Caring for the Whole Person parish leaders received a special blessing and a pin to recognize their implementation of the program. The Mass, which was held at Good Shepherd Parish in Mira Mesa, was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan, with seven concelebrating priests.

“I am very proud of those active parish leaders for saying ‘yes’ to God’s call, persevering in their beliefs, and being authentic witnesses of life,” said Maria Valencia, who oversees Culture of Life ministry in the diocese.

She said that some parishes are already offering information sessions and workshops on Catholic Church teaching on the end of life and advance care directives to educate their communities. Others are directly serving families who face the chronic illnesses of their loved ones.

“For all of these, we give thanks to God and celebrate,” she said.

For more information, contact Maria Valencia at (858) 490-8323 or

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