Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 12 - March 25 - March 31, 2017

01 Cover

posted Mar 23, 2017, 11:49 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 24, 2017, 12:04 AM ]


03 Index

posted Mar 23, 2017, 11:49 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 11:49 AM ]


04 Engagements

posted Mar 23, 2017, 11:47 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 11:48 AM ]


05 Editorial - Care & Compassion

posted Mar 23, 2017, 11:45 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 24, 2017, 12:05 AM ]

Take a case scenario: A friend has been diagnosed as having terminal cancer. The doctor has given him a couple of months to live. No medicine can be of any avail to him. There is no cure for him. What can you do? Medically speaking, there is no CURE for him. But you can always CARE for him. Curing is restricted to medical professionals. Caring can be done by any one.

Caring for a person is closely linked with compassion; in fact, caring is not possible without compassion. Compassion literally means "to suffer together." It is the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another's suffering, and you feel motivated to relieve that suffering. Compassion is more than empathy, though it is related to it. Empathy refers to our ability to take the perspective of, and feel the emotions of, a suffering person; compassion includes the desire to relieve that suffering.

The Gospel of Luke (10:25-37) gives us a beautiful example of care and compassion in the Samaritan who sees the man robbed and half dead. The Samaritan felt compassion on him, stopped and took care of him. The Fathers of the Church have seen in the Good Samaritan a portrait of Jesus Himself. He looks with compassion on humanity mauled by the Evil One, stripped of human dignity and of the garment of grace. He takes care of wounded human beings, pouring into their wounds His soothing sacramental grace, and entrusting them to the 'inn' - His Church, to be cared for until His Second Coming.

The Gospels do indeed portray Jesus as an eminently compassionate person. It is interesting to see the number of times the Gospels mention that Jesus had compassion. He had compassion on the widow of Nain, and raised up her son (Lk 7:13). He was moved to compassion when He saw the leper; He touched him and healed him (Mk 1:40). He felt compassion for the harried and helpless people, and He gave up a well deserved break to teach them (Mt 9:36). He felt compassion for the hungry crowds, and He multiplied the loaves and fishes. He felt compassion on the two blind men near Jericho, and He touched their eyes and healed them (Mt 20:34). But even more than all these, Jesus' whole life was one of compassionate outpouring to the sick and the suffering. We have the scene in Capernaum where "they brought to Him all who were sick and possessed by demons" (Mk 2:32)—a sea of suffering humanity around the Compassionate Saviour. Jesus reveals, indeed, the compassionate face of God.

Pope Francis, by his life of reaching out to the afflicted and by his teaching, has emphasised the need of a compassionate approach in all our dealings, whether it be to the sick and suffering, migrants, those in irregular marriages, people with a same sex orientation, and so on. In a particular way, he has emphasised compassionate care of the terminally ill. In a speech to healthcare professionals from Spain and Latin America, the Pope affirmed: "Growing acceptance of euthanasia does not indicate increased compassion, but highlights the rise of a selfish 'throwaway culture' that casts aside the sick, the dying and those who do not satisfy the perceived requirements of a healthy life." He added: "True compassion does not marginalise, humiliate or exclude, much less celebrate a patient's passing away."

Euthanasia is not the answer to terminal illness. Palliative care is an answer. We rejoice in the growing awareness of the need of palliative healthcare. This year, our Diocesan Human Life Committee celebrates 20 years of its existence. This week's issue of The Examiner focuses on Palliative Care. The Diocesan Human Life Committee salutes the big army of healthcare personnel in hospitals and in homes who dedicate their lives to compassionate caring of the terminally ill.

+ Bishop Agnelo Gracias

06 Caring at the end of Life - Ninette Lobo

posted Mar 23, 2017, 11:42 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 11:42 AM ]

Our hearts sink when we get the news that a loved one has been diagnosed with a long term or terminal illness. The first question that may come to our minds is how will we look after that person? We know that most people do not want their end time to be a "burden" on their families, and will worry about this. Every effort has to be made to ensure that no sick person feels that he or she is a burden, be it at home or in hospital, if palliative care is chosen.

Home, sweet home

"When patients wish to die at home, every effort should be made to achieve this," says Dr Pollock, who is principal research fellow at the University of Nottingham's Sue Ryder Care Centre for the Study of Supportive, Palliative and End of Life Care. Most people with a long term illness prefer to stay at home with people they are comfortable with, or with whom they share a special relationship. However, nursing and supporting an ill relative or friend can be both difficult and demanding, especially when the caregiver has no previous experience with chronic illnesses. Caring for a patient is always rewarding. But we cannot turn a blind eye to the reality that having to look after a terminally ill patient causes changes in the pattern of family life. It can be physically and emotionally strenuous.

The first step for everyone is acceptance. When a decision is made to take care of a sick person at home, it is important that all family members accept that their routine life will be altered. In a Christian context, we know that suffering is a part of God's plan. This is the truth, no matter how difficult it may be to understand. That is why we look at the life of Christ in times of suffering. We recall His words, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done." Christ accepts the suffering and goes calmly to His death.

St Josemaría Escrivá says, "This supernatural acceptance of suffering was, precisely, the greatest of all conquests. The attitude of a child of God is not one of resignation to a possibly tragic fate; it is the sense of achievement of someone who has a foretaste of victory." If family and friends make an effort to imbue this supernatural outlook in their daily lives, a patient at home will never feel that he or she is a "burden" on them. On the contrary, the patient will begin to value his or her sickness as a treasure that God has given.

Caring for self to care for others is important. A terminal illness brings along with it physical suffering of different sorts. An active person who suddenly finds himself bedridden has to count on the help of other people for so many day-to-day things. This loss of independence can easily provoke a moral suffering that people around may not easily understand. The patient may start behaving in ways that earlier were not common; there can be bouts of anger and even hostility to the caregiver. It is difficult for one who is trying to show love to a sick person to be rejected by that very person. Nonetheless, part and parcel of looking after the sick is to take care of oneself. Besides the support of other family members, it is important that the caregiver gets his or her strength from prayer and the Sacraments.

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07 Pain and Palliative Care - Dr Jeanette Pinto

posted Mar 23, 2017, 11:38 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 11:39 AM ]

Who does not know what pain is like? Surely, a headache, a stomach ache or a toothache is a common pain suffered at any given point of time. Those suffering pain are in great discomfort; remember, pain is real. A person's pain exists within her or his own body, and each person's response is unique, hence pain is personal. It is only what the patient feels that he describes; you may not understand this feeling, so don't talk about your own pain. Pain is a subjective experience. Many people fear pain, even to the point of avoiding seeing a doctor in some cases, like a visit to the dentist. Indeed, pain can even provoke fear. Some suffer momentary pain like a burst of pain. This can shock the senses and leave the person shattered. Some suffer pain that can go on sort of endlessly, testing one's endurance.

Pain relates to a sensation that hurts, causes discomfort, distress, and possibly even agony, depending on the severity. It is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli, such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting alcohol on a cut, or bumping the "funny bone". Pain can be a complex subjective phenomenon, and defining it can be quite a challenge. A slight pain is bearable, but acute pain is usually managed with medicines such as analgesics and anaesthetic.

There are many different kinds of pain. Hippocrates, the Father of medicine, said, "It is just as important to know what sort of person has a disease, as to know what sort of disease a person has." Persons who are in the ministry of caring as 'Ministers of Care' can be surrounded by disease, discouragement and disfigurement, but the ministry is about people. And people who are suffering are people in pain, and such people are in need of caring hands and hearts.

Hospitals can be very painful places, not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Healthcare professionals strive to treat their patients as complete persons; however, their primary responsibility is for the body. And sometimes, bodies need to have needles put into them, masks taped to their faces, electrodes attached and tests performed. The patient is usually in a hospital gown, bereft of their personal belongings. Any one who enters a hospital is afraid of what is happening and what might happen. They are filled with memories of what has happened to their relatives or friends, perhaps even to them.

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09 Palliative Care — a compassionate, patient-centred approach - Sonalini Mirchandani

posted Mar 23, 2017, 10:47 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 10:47 AM ]

In a world where information is available at one's fingertips, sometimes we are overwhelmed by a barrage of explanations, definitions and concepts. We then yearn for simple language, shorn of jargon and technicalities. This piece is an attempt to do just that, and hopefully, it will succeed!

The term 'palliative care' often conjures up an image of care that applies to a situation when there's no hope, when everyone else seems to have given up; in other words, an image that is often depressing. Here are some thoughts that will help us to change the way we understand this concept, and to see it instead as a beacon of hope, a reassurance of our faith and belief that when everything around seems full of despair, there is sunshine that is still within our reach.

So what exactly is palliative care?

Let's begin with the technical (WHO) definition: 'an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual'.

If one reads carefully, interspersed in the above definition are some important elements!

Firstly, it seeks to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. There is recognition of the importance of addressing the concerns and needs of the patient's family too. Caregivers need not only have skills and information on how to look after their loved ones, but also reassurance and support through the difficult times of the illness and beyond. There is also increasing evidence that working with the whole family, rather than focusing only on the patient, has a better outcome for both patient and family members.

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10 Mary’s Clan - Nirmala Carvalho

posted Mar 23, 2017, 10:45 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 10:45 AM ]

30 years of palliative care for alcoholics and the abandoned

The Diocesan Human Life Committee (DHLC) of the Archdiocese of Bombay has conferred the Pro Life Award 2017 to Mary's Clan, recognising its committed and dedicated mission to rehabilitate the alcoholics to a life of sobriety, giving them New Life. Mary's Clan is Pro Life!!

Bosco Pereira, Director of Mary's Clan, explains that "Mary's Clan was founded on October 13, 1983, and since then, has been a home for the Chronic and Destitute Alcoholics – providing food, shelter, spiritual, medical, and motivational therapy with a view to bring them back on the road of sobriety. For over thirty years, Mary's Clan has rehabilitated thousands of alcoholics, many of whom, after recovery, have returned home to their families."

Chronic alcoholism gives rise to complex medical issues, and many of the reformed destitute alcoholics suffer from serious medical complications, including terminal illnesses. Mary's Clan has looked after their members, "even when they were bedridden and helpless for years, cleaning their diapers, catheters, feeding them, medicating etc," the Director explains.

"Commitment and dedication to serve our destitute reformed alcoholic is our Mission. Our Clan is a home where the weak and the vulnerable are nurtured and protected, especially when they are facing death."

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11 Vision Restored, Power and Glory revealed Christopher Mendonca

posted Mar 23, 2017, 10:43 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 10:43 AM ]

The Blind man at the pool of Siloam

had heard about Jesus, but never personally heard Him.

Yet in his mind's eye, he already had an image of Him.

So when, one evening, he heard

the unfamiliar sounds of a cluster of footsteps,

he wondered what that could mean.

The footsteps became slower, and ground to a halt.

Jesus and His disciples were right in front of him,

and he was the topic of their conversation.

He had not even made a request to be healed.

Instead, the first thing he heard

was a discussion about his supposedly "sinful" condition.

Jesus would have none of it.

The first words he heard Jesus speak intrigued him.

"He had been born blind,

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12 Called to a Ministry of Service

posted Mar 23, 2017, 10:41 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 10:41 AM ]

Fredrick Correa St Blaise Church, Amboli, Andheri West

"My soul glorifies the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour." (Luke 1:46)

My journey to Permanent Diaconate started with an eight-day retreat at St Pius X Seminary, followed by a probationary period of one year, along with newcomers at the Seminary. After that, we were off to a flying start with personality development classes conducted by Fr Vincent Pereira. Those 44 sessions went a long way in building my confidence, and helped me a great deal through my five years at the Seminary.

After successfully completing the probationary period, I went to Bengaluru for a crash course in Philosophy. For two months, I felt like I was in a monastery. Overwhelmed by a hectic schedule, I couldn't make it out of the compound even on Sundays! But I felt a sense of great joy and accomplishment when I completed the course. I had an opportunity to obtain a wealth of knowledge and attain personal spirituality.

When I look back at the four years of Theology that I studied with candidates for the priesthood, it was an entirely different world. The morning prayers, the meditation, followed by Mass was the best imaginable start to my mornings. The classes were very interactive, and made learning and gaining valuable knowledge fun. 

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Sylvester Lobo St Lawrence Church, Wagle Estate

Motto: "In Christ's footsteps, to pray, to serve"

The Word of God from Isaiah 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways," has been truly realised in my life! At the age of 12, I thought God was calling me to become an SVD missionary. So, I joined their minor seminary at Kirem, Mangalore, and went through 12 years of SVD formation and secular studies.

When I was doing regency in Orissa, God revealed to me in His wonderful ways that he had called me to married life, and not religious life. So I gave up pursuing my vocation as an SVD missionary, and went on to receive training in journalism. In course of time, I began working as a professional journalist. I then met Lina, married her, and God blessed us with two sons.

Even as our sons were still in college, for almost a year, I felt a voice within me that I should dedicate more time for personal prayer, Bible study and community service. After discussing with the family, with their support, I resigned my job at the age of 48, and started a spiritual journey that lasted almost ten years.

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