Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has urged all young and healthy Catholics to develop a special concern for the frail, sick and elderly, saying he had received a deeper insight into the suffering of others after his own experience of temporary paralysis.
The archbishop, who has been recovering in St Vincent’s Hospital from the effects of Guillain-Barré syndrome since Christmas time, made the comments via email after a prayer vigil held for his recovery on 9 January at Sacred Heart Church in Darlinghurst.
“I am enormously grateful to you all for your expressions of concern and promises of prayers,” the archbishop said.
“My experience of temporary paralysis and pain has given me a deeper insight into what some people suffer every day and over the long-term.
“Those of us who are young and healthy must have a special concern for those who are frail or sick or elderly.
“In this Year of Mercy we remember that visiting and praying for the sick are among the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to which Pope Francis is calling us. ‘When I was sick you visited me’ Christ says to His saints.”
Vigil participants were told that Archbishop Fisher was hoping to catch a glimpse of the crowd, and so at the conclusion of prayers, they walked to nearby St Vincent’s Hospital where the archbishop is being treated.
After a few moments of anticipation, Archbishop Fisher appeared at a window, smiling at the crowd gathered below, speaking to them via the mobile phone of one of the vigil participants who put her phone on speaker so everyone could hear him.
He thanked the crowd for their presence and prayers, saying his spirits had been lifted by seeing the numbers in attendance.
He spoke of his certainty that their prayers would aid his recovery, assuring them that he was also praying for the people of Sydney.
The principal celebrant of the vigil, Darlinghurst parish priest Fr Matthew Solomon, began his homily by posing the question: “What do you do when there is nothing you can do?”
He asked people to consider times when they could not see a resolution to illness, career struggles, financial pressure or relationship stress which left them wondering whether God is absent, apathetic or angry.
Such times, Fr Matthew said, were an invitation to faith in the God who suffers with us.
Archbishop Fisher continues to respond well to treatment and will soon begin rehabilitation and physiotherapy.
The vigil was organised by Catholic Youth Services, Catholic University Chaplaincies, the University of Notre Dame Australia and the Australian Catholic University (ACU).
ACU choir led the music during the Mass and the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which began at the conclusion of Mass and continued until 7.30pm.