Anointing of the Sick

Throughout the gospels, the sick were a primary concern of Jesus, and His loving concern for them is the foundation of this Sacrament. In the Anointing of the Sick, we ask for and experience God’s powerful love for those who suffer some form of serious illness and for those who are at the point of death. In the anointing and laying on of hands, healing may come physically, but God will always provide spiritual strength and consolation to endure even to the point of death. The grace of the Holy Spirit received from this sacrament will quiet anxiety, dissipate fear, strengthen the soul to conquer despair, and inspire confidence in God with resignation to His will.

“Is anyone among you sick? They should call for the priests of the Church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.`` (James 5:14-16)

Anointing of the Sick can be administered to any baptized Catholic who has reached the age of reason and is awaiting serious surgery, suffers from serious illness, is weakened by old age, or affected by some serious form of mental illness.

The anointing of the sick complements confession. If possible, we encourage the sick and those preparing for surgery to participate in the Sacrament of Confession prior to anointing and the Sacrament of the Eucharist after.

If you would like to receive the Sacrament of Anointing, please contact the parish office at
(919) 552-8758 to make arrangements. For house and hospital calls, arrangements may also be made for receiving the Eucharist.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Sacrament of the Sick?

The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick includes the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the rite of Anointing and the rite of Viaticum.

The Sacrament of the Anointing of the sick is for those who are seriously ill due to illness, old age or injury, or for those facing serious surgery. Illness may be mental or physical. The anointing can be repeated if the medical situation worsens or if a new illness or injury is experienced. However, it is not necessary to repeatedly anoint a person who is ill.

Viaticum, which means “with us on the way,” is the final giving of Holy Communion to a person approaching death, and as such is the “last” sacrament.

For centuries, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, (Reconciliation, Holy Eucharist and Anointing) were together called Extreme Unction, and were often referred to as Last Rites.

Who administers the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick?

A bishop or a priest administers the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. However, all Christians are called to pray for, visit, and show compassion for the sick.

How is the Sacrament Administered to someone near death?

  • The priest begins with the Sign of the Cross and then either administers the Sacrament of Confession (if the person is Catholic, conscious, and able to speak) or leads the person in an Act of Contrition, which both non-Catholics and those unable to speak can take part in.
  • The priest leads the dying person in the Apostles’ Creed or in the renewal of his or her baptismal promises, depending on the person’s level of consciousness.
  • The priest can then anoint the person, using the form of the Sacrament of the Sick for Catholics, or a simple anointing with holy oil (chrism) for non Catholics.
  • The Our Father is recited and Holy Communion (Viaticum) is offered to the dying person. The ritual then concludes with a final blessing and prayers.

When should I call a priest?

Pastoral care should be requested for the sick person as soon as the individual experiences serious illness or is chronically ill, especially if they are elderly. St. Bernadette Homebound Ministry visits the ill, elderly and homebound on a regular basis to offer Holy Communion

What happens if the sick person is not conscious?

 The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick can be administered to a person who is not conscious. In this case, the Church relies on the wishes of the family  and on the presumption that the person would have requested the anointing if he or she had been able to.

Can someone receive the Anointing of the Sick after Death?

The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are an encounter between a living person and God that occur within the Church community. Therefore, anointing a person who is deceased is not possible. The ritual of the Church, however, provides official prayers for the dead and the consolation of the living.