Standing by the suffering person

30th World Day of the Sick - An invitation from Pope Francis to be available to the sick

For the past 30 years, the Catholic Church has used the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, on 11 February, to call on the faithful to never forget the sick in their prayers. This “World Day” also aims to raise awareness among Catholic health institutions and civil society at large to care not only for the sick themselves but for all those who care for them.

We all know people who have been or are seriously ill. The COVID-19 pandemic has made us even more aware of the precariousness of health and has urged us to show solidarity. In his message for the World Day of the Sick 2022, Pope Francis takes up the call of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke: “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). For the Holy Father, mercy is manifested by presence and proximity. He specifies, “I would like to remind everyone that closeness to the sick and their pastoral care is not only the task of certain specifically designated ministers; visiting the sick is an invitation that Christ addresses to all his disciples. How many sick and elderly people are living at home and waiting for a visit! The ministry of consolation is a task for every baptized person.”

Yes, we all know people who are sick... Here at the General Curia of the Society of Jesus, we pray day after day for those Jesuits who face serious health challenges. One of us, Fr Tom Smolich, the International Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), has just returned to our community after surgery and convalescence. In his own words:


On 31 January of last year, I slipped and fell on wet pavement, landing on my upper back. After several months of hoping it would heal on its own, I had nine hours of spinal reconstruction surgery in early August. While I am still going to physical therapy, I am deeply aware I have been given a new lease on life. Fundamentally, I am filled with gratitude.

Of course, I thank my surgeon for her wonderful work; more than that, she postponed her vacation a day so that I wouldn’t have to wait for her return.

I am deeply grateful to a worldwide network of people praying for me from the time I fell up until now. Their prayers felt and feel tangible to me – literally supporting me through the ups and downs of waiting and recovery.

There were also faithful visitors and communicators during those months: Jesuits, family, and friends from different parts of my life. I would not necessarily have guessed who they would be, and I was amazed at how much their visits and staying in touch meant.

The past year was also a privileged time spiritually. God was very close during this time of poor health. God’s presence let me see the graces given and shared by so many people. The reverse is also true; their care showed me the face of God.

All in all, I am deeply grateful.

The accompaniment Tom experienced during his convalescence is what we are all encouraged to offer on this special day and throughout the year.

Share this Post:
Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

Related Posts: