Preparations are in progress to accommodate an anticipated high turnout for the third annual archdiocesan World Day of the Sick Mass, to be hosted Feb. 8, 12:30 the Order of Malta at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Bishop Edward Clark will preside at the concelebrated Mass, which will include an anointing for the sick. Past year’s events at the Cathedral have drawn between 1,500 and 2,000 attendees from throughout the archdiocese.

“We’ve had a large turnout in the past, so we’re planning for that and more this year,” said Tim Garrity, the Order’s Mass co-chair along with Jim Lo Coco. Held locally on the closest Saturday to the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (Feb. 11), the World Day of the Sick is celebrated worldwide.

As Pope John Paul II wrote in his letter for the Institution of the World Day of the Sick on May 13, 1992, this day represents for the sick, for health care workers, for the faithful and for all people of goodwill “a privileged time of prayer, of sharing, of offering one’s sufferings for the good of the Church, and a call for all to recognize in the features of their suffering brothers and sisters the Holy Face of Christ, who, by suffering, dying and rising has brought about the salvation of mankind.”

“Last year’s World Day of the Sick Mass was very special with a good number of Catholic high school students in their uniforms to greet and brighten everyone’s day,” in addition to the Knights and Dames of Malta assisting people, noted Garrity.

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, often known today as the Order of Malta, is a lay religious order of the Roman Catholic Church dating back to the middle of the eleventh century. Local members of the Order belong to the Western Association, U.S.A., which has chapters in Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle.

The Order of Malta’s Knights and Dames in the Los Angeles chapter perform hospitaller (care for the poor and sick) projects at several locations, including the St. Francis Center in downtown L.A., Mary Health of the Sick in Newbury Park, Santa Teresita in Duarte, and at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels’ Outreach Center. Members also contribute donations to the Order of Malta Free Clinic adjacent to the St. Vincent Medical Center west of downtown L.A. and many local Knights and Dames accompany 50 sick people on a pilgrimage to Lourdes each May.

Joseph Sanders, Knight of Malta since 2007 and president of the chapter in Los Angeles, said that those who attended the World Day of the Sick last year seemed very happy that the opportunity was available to them to be part of the special event.

“The Mass and anointing touch so many lives. There are so many people out there who need and want something like this from the Church,” noted Sanders, who will be travelling with the Order to Lourdes this year.

“A lot of ‘spiritual miracles’ take place at Lourdes among the sick who travel there. There’s definitely a change in their whole outlook when they go home.”

Many local members of the Order who traveled to Lourdes last year brought back holy water, which will be distributed as long as it lasts at the end of the World Day of the Sick Mass.

“We’re expecting a larger crowd this year,” said Sanders. “I think it’s going to be an uplifting day.”

The Rite of Anointing, which will be administered following Bishop Clark’s homily, is no longer restricted to those who are dying or who are in danger of death. According to the anointing catechesis, people falling into one of the following categories may receive the sacrament: those suffering a serious (chronic or terminal) physical or mental illness; those anticipating serious surgery; the elderly.

Drivers may take advantage of curb-side drop-off of passengers at the Cathedral on Temple Street with assistance provided by the Knights and Dames of Malta. Parking is available at the Cathedral for $8, with accommodations inside the Cathedral for those in wheelchairs. 

For more information about the Feb. 9 World Day of the Sick Mass, contact Tim Garrity: [email protected]t.