Hospices are among the holiest places on earth, says Mercy Sister who teaches upcoming ACU seminar – Catholic Outlook

Ask Dr. Julia Upton RSM to name the holiest places on earth, and at least one of her answers would be Mercy Hospice in Auckland, New Zealand.

Although located 14,000 kilometers from her home in New York, Dr Upton found herself inside Mercy Hospice during a sabbatical in 2012.

The hospice, which was once a novice home for the Sisters of Mercy in Auckland, provides free community-based palliative care to patients and their families. For Dr. Upton, it was like being on the precipice of paradise.

“I walked in, and it was so sacred, it was like being in a shrine,” Dr Upton said.

“I just think it’s such a privilege to be with someone who is going to be with God next. I can’t imagine anything holier than that – it’s handing someone over to God.

Dr. Upton’s work in the palliative care movement came after she came to terms with her decision to walk away from a childhood dream: “I’ve always been interested in medicine, but I got said I wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor, so I became something else.

At the age of 30, she realized that although she couldn’t be a doctor, she had the charisma of healing and became a hospice volunteer.

For Dr. Upton, palliative care and the global palliative care movement offer the utmost respect to human death.

“I always had respect for death, I wasn’t afraid of it – I think it was my dad, who dragged me to all the family wakes, and we had funerals for our fish that are dead and our turtles,” she said.

“I grew up knowing that dying was part of life, just like grief.”

With a master’s degree in public health, a doctorate in theology, and 40 years as a member of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Dr. Upton knows that today’s culture has a very different view of death.

“I think the culture in general wants quick answers to things, and it doesn’t have the patience to die, or the faith that God will walk us through anything,” she said. declared.

“I think people are most afraid of pain and suffering. You can certainly deal with people’s pain, without killing them, to ease their pain – emotional, physical, spiritual – but people just don’t believe that’s happening.

Dr. Upton will share his insights into the theological view of human death and his experiences in the hospice movement at an upcoming intensive online professional learning seminar for Australian Catholic University July 4-7.

The seminar, Liturgy and prayer in the pastoralwhich will take place as part of a postgraduate study unit for ACU students in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, will explore a Catholic theological vision of the human person in the face of illness and death, and how liturgical rituals and prayers offer consolation at the end of life.

Dr. Upton will particularly focus on the understanding and use of Church ritual books: Pastoral care of the sick, Holy Communion and worship of the Eucharist outside Mass and elements of the Order of Christian Funerals.

The Director of the ACU Liturgy Centre, Professor Clare Johnson, will co-teach the unit with Dr Upton and will be joined by special guests: Head of Palliative Medicine at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Associate Professor Maria Cigolini, director of the Queensland Bioethics Center, Dr. David Kirchhoffer and Long Bay Correctional Chaplain of the institution Father Peter Carroll MSC.

Prof Johnson said the professional learning seminar was timely given the recent passage of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in New South Wales.

“At a time when palliative care is in the news with the recent vote in the New South Wales parliament to legalize euthanasia, the ACU provides a special unit focused on the pastoral care of the sick and dying, and the role that liturgy and prayer play in supporting those who are sick, those who care for them and those who are grieving,” Prof Johnson said.

Registrations for Liturgy and prayer in the pastoral closes June 30, 2022. For more information on the seminar, including costs, visit the ACU Liturgy Professional Development Center Page.

With thanks to the ACU.

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