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Prayer apostolate continues to bring comfort to the dying

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By Eileen Connelly, OSU
The Catholic Telegraph

It was while keeping vigil at the bedside of her sister-in-law, who was battling cancer, that Fernanda Moreira realized the “spiritual consolation” that her family’s prayers gave to their loved one.

After her death, Moreira and another sister-in-law, recognizing how much “the dying need our prayers,” began meeting weekly at St. Dominic Parish in Delhi, at 3 p.m., the hour of mercy, to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and other prayers. Soon, others began to join them, and they decided to collect their prayers into a booklet. The result was the foundation of a prayerful and faith-filled ministry — the Apostolate for the Dying, the goal of which is daily prayer for the dying throughout the world, and the publication of the “Holy Hour Devotion for the Dying” booklet, which contains prayers compiled from both traditional and original sources. It features opening and closing prayers, the mysteries of the rosary, a Litany for the Dying, a prayer to St. Joseph, patron of the Dying, the Holy Trinity Prayer for the Dying, among others.

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr offered his support for the ministry and first edition of the booklet in 2009, saying, “I thank you for the great love and compassion you show our brothers and sisters as they approach the end of their earthly life.”

“Praying for the dying is a vital work of mercy, and a central work of our Catholic faith,” noted Moreira. “How little we think about the most important moment of our lives, the hour of our death! Many of our wonderful saints were always looking forward to that precious day. St. Teresa of Avila use to say with great joy, that each step she took was one-step closer in going to see the Beloved. However, most of us poor sinners, prepare for everything but not for that moment. Many do not even want to talk about it; they simply deny the stark truth of their mortality until time has run out. Thus, many people die each day completely unprepared to face God. We hear it every day in the news, and sometimes in our own families, or friends and neighbors.”

“Because of the state of the world in which we live, with so much confusion everywhere, including our own beloved Catholic Church, praying for the dying is more urgent now than ever,” she said.

The “Holy Hour Devotion for the Dying” booklet has been translated into Portuguese, German, Polish, and is currently being done in Spanish, and thousands of copies have been distributed locally and beyond. It has been used by prayer groups in many area parishes and by those who minister to the dying at local hospices.

Comments on the apostolate’s website speak to comfort the booklet provides: “Thank you very much for writing this booklet. I was able to pray with a close friend dying from cancer, an aunt dying from pneumonia and my mother, who suffered a stroke four days earlier. What comfort to me to read your story and know that I was doing what needed to be done.  I just felt compelled to do it.  That’s all the matters during that last hour — to pray.”

And the ministry continues to grow. A new booklet — “Words of Comfort for the Dying,” with an Imprimatar (permission to publish) from Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer — serves as a companion to “Holy Hour Devotion for the Dying,” and it is specifically designed to be a handy ministerial aid to anyone to give comfort and hope to the person who is dying, and to their family and friends. Also available are beautiful holy cards: “Meditations to the Five Wounds of Christ,” “Seven Sorrows of Mary,” “Our Lady of Mount Carmel,” and “St. Michael the Archangel” — all prayers for the dying. In addition, a DVD and CD of the “Holy Hour Devotion for the Dying” booklet are planned.

Annamarie Short, a member of Good Shepherd Parish in Montgomery, who was inspired to become involved in the apostolate after learning about it, said, “Fernanda has said this is not our ministry; it’s God’s ministry, and I believe that. I truly feel this is vital work of God’s mercy. People don’t like to think about death or hear the word, but it truly it the journey of a lifetime for us. We’re hoping that as this grows, people will become less fearful and will find comfort.”

For more information or to order the booklets or prayer cards, call 513-922-0370, or visit  www.ApostolateForTheDying.org.

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