Our gospels reveal to us that Jesus’ ministry was a ministry of healing. Nearly 1/5 of the gospels are devoted to acts of healing, with more than 40 recorded instances of physical and mental healing. Christian ministry, by its very nature, involves ministries of healing that strive for the well-being of the mind, body and spirit. In May 1968, the Bishop of Toronto’s Commission on the Church’s Ministry of Healing noted:
“Health and healing are difficult to define, but health may be described as a condition of satisfactory functioning of the whole organism. The words health, wholeness and holiness are closely linked in origin. Healing may, therefore, be described as the process by which a living organism, whose functions are disordered, is restored to health or ‘made whole’; that is to say, returns to complete functioning. In a sense, all healing maybe considered to be Divine. Many aspects of healing are still outside our present knowledge, and this we should honestly and humbly admit.”
Healing is as much mystery as it is science. The experience of healing and the ministry of healing is as old as humanity itself. In today’s scientific 21st century, the promotion of the church’s ministry of healing within both the parish setting and publicly funded institutions such as hospitals, long-term care facilities and prisons remains one of the most challenging opportunities of living out the diocesan vision of building communities of hope and compassion.
The Diocese of Toronto requires those who wish to minister in acts of healing to be both trained and licensed within their specialized ministries.
The Diocese of Toronto lives out its ministry of healing in the following ways:
- The laying on of hands. This ministry is currently restricted to ordained clergy.
- Anointing with oil. Considered by the church as a sacramental act, it is restricted to either ordained clergy or licensed lay anointers. Anointing with oil is a healing ministry intended to be situated within the life and worship of a parish or faith community. It is not considered a private or individual ministry, but a ministry of the whole of the church.
- Pastoral visiting. Pastoral visiting is a fundamental dynamic of a worshiping community of faith tending to the spiritual and religious needs of its membership through a regular pattern of focused visitations. Both generalized and specific therapeutic care is offered by qualified clergy and lay pastoral visitors.
- Parish nursing. Parish nursing is a growing field of specialized nursing that operates within a faith community, promoting health, healing and wholeness. This specialized ministry emphasizes the wholeness of body, mind and spirit rooted within the vision of Christ as healer. Parish nursing is a specialized field within the registered nursing profession, and as such all parish nurses are licensed practitioners within the Registered Nurses Associations of Canada.
For more information, please contact the Rev. Canon Douglas Graydon, Coordinator of Chaplaincy Services, 416-363-6021 ext. 236 (1-800-668-8932).