Pastoral Care

What is Pastoral Care?

The purpose of pastoral care is to cultivate the healing, transforming presence of the living Christ in the lives of the people within the parish and beyond. In the Orthodox Church, the sacraments and liturgical services are central to pastoral care. Beyond the sacraments, pastoral care takes place in a variety of forms and includes everything from visits to homes or hospital rooms, to informal discussions about faith and life, to a pastoral presence in a time of crisis. Please call the Church Office at 603-889-4000 if you would like to arrange pastoral care for yourself or for a member of your immediate family.

Ministry to the Sick

The Orthodox Church has always viewed body and soul as connected thus stressing the good health of both, following our Lord, Jesus Christ's exhortation to his disciples to "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons" (Matthew 10:10), "heal the brokenhearted, and to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind" (Luke 4:18; see Is 61:1), and to heal "all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease" (Matthew 4:23).

The Orthodox Church follows the instruction prescribed by the Apostle James: "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up." (James 5:14-15).

Holy Confession

Through this sacramental act of the ordained priest and the Christian believer we have the assurance of divine forgiveness, according to the words of Christ (Jn 20:23).

Holy Confession provides the opportunity to learn about ourselves, to talk about one's deep concerns, to receive counsel, and to be encouraged toward spiritual growth, all of which are universally recognized as extremely beneficial to personal life.

Our clergy hear confessions by appointment only and generally on weekday mornings/afternoons (Monday – Friday). Call 603-889-4000 to schedule an appointment.

Home-bound & Nursing Home Visitations

The priest or a designated member(s) of the church will visit “home-bound” parishioners and parishioners in nursing homes and who need prayer and support. The priest also offers the Sacraments of Confession, Unction, and Communion.

If you or a family member would like a visit, please call the church office at 603-889-4000 and give the full name of the person to be visited, the name and location of the nursing home (or address of their home), and whatever additional information you think may be helpful.

Hospital Ministry

Area hospitals no longer inform the Parish of inpatients due to confidentiality restrictions. Even if patients request notification to their pastors or parish, hospital volunteer staff often cannot do so in a timely manner. Therefore, if you or an immediate member of your family member are in the hospital or is in need of pastoral care, please contact the church at 603-889-4000. Please give the full legal name (the name under which they have been admitted to the hospital) of the person to be visited, the name and location of the hospital and whatever additional information you think may be helpful.

If it is an emergency and the church office is not open, please listen carefully to the voice message and select the appropriate prompt for Pastoral Emergencies.

It is also appropriate to inform the priest of a planned stay at the hospital. Some people will ask, for example, will ask the priest to pray for them after liturgy on Sunday, prior to a planned surgery in the coming week.

Please note: the Priest cannot administer Holy Communion to those who are unable to swallow, those on intake-restrictions, and those unable to convey their own consent (unconscious, etc.). Holy Unction is the normal alternative in such situations.

Last Rites?

The Orthodox Church does not have a tradition of "last rites."

A person who is terminally ill may receive the sacraments, if they are able to, but the Orthodox Church does not teach that "last rites" are somehow required in the last moment of one's life – especially if sacramental participation has been ignored in a person's life while he/she was healthy. Regular and frequent participation in the Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion is very important for Orthodox Christians throughout a person's life.

What may be more necessary in an end-of-life situation, is Holy Confession. Repentance for our sins and reconciliation with God and others is always desired, even to our last breath. Thus, the Parish Priest may ask visitors present to leave the room temporarily in order to converse privately with patients. This is particularly required if the Sacrament of Holy Confession is to be administered.

The Priest cannot make medical decisions for patients or families but can assist in the decision-making process when difficult choices must be made. The Church does have certain guidelines in the most serious cases, but very few concrete rules. The spiritual, physical, and psychological welfare of patients and their personal dignity is of the utmost importance in hospital ministry. A patient's privacy is also important and respected.