Nearly 150 leaders from 85 dioceses gathered in Bloomington, Minnesota from Oct. 3-5 for the 48th annual national meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC), of which vicar general Father Tom Ranzino is a past president and the current Region 5 director.

The meeting focused on “Touching the Hem of His Garment: The Pastoral Care of the Sick.” Specifically, members examined the rites of the Pastoral Care of the Sick, their proper celebration and the pastoral activities which surround them.

The members of the FDLC were greeted by Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

FDLC’s executive director Rita Thiron, brought the meeting’s theme into focus: “When illness strikes, life as we know it, stops. Doctor appointments become more important than our usual daily schedules. The care of a loved one becomes our only concern. We realize our helplessness in the face of something we cannot control. So we rely on our faith to make sense of suffering. We rely on the power of Christ and his sacramental grace. We rely on the power of our communal prayer. And we become more acutely aware of those who cannot be with us as we gather around our eucharistic table,” she said.

Perhaps the most powerful reminder of the helplessness caused by illness came during the opening prayer when Minneapolis native Father J. Michael Joncas recalled his own near-death experience with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a fast-moving virus which attacks the body’s muscles and neurological systems. Within days, only his eyelids could blink answers, but he still recalled the power of a priest’s anointing and the symbol of the cross on his forehead. His captivating reflections were interspersed with Scripture and song.

An impressive group of presenters aided the discussions. Bishop John M. Quinn of the Diocese of Winona spoke of the power of presence to those who are ailing and how visits to the sick have been part of his priestly and episcopal ministry for decades.

“The sick are an integral part of the parish community,” he said. “They are visible signs of the Paschal Mystery. Let them evangelize the community for they have much to teach us.”

Msgr. John Kasza of the Archdiocese of Detroit spoke on the richness of the rites found in the liturgical text. Sister Esther Mary Nickels RSM spoke of her experiences with patients in her work as an emergency-room respiratory therapist. Both related their work to the healing work of Jesus Christ, the Great Physician.

The “Study Day” was opened to local participants. Healthcare professionals, extraordinary ministers of holy Communion and pastoral care staffs were present to hear the plenary sessions as well as six workshops sessions.

Since its founding, the FDLC National Meeting has been co-sponsored annually by the FDLC and the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship.

Diocesan leaders heard updates on the progress of the translation of liturgical texts, on the status of liturgical books currently under review at the Vatican and on other liturgical initiatives. They were especially interested in next year’s implementation of the third edition of the Misal Romano and the Federation’s plans for liturgical catechesis.

The celebrations of daily Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours were integral to the meeting. The attendees also participated in a eucharistic liturgy at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis where Archbishop Hebda served as principal celebrant. Twenty-eight people received the anointing of sick during the Mass.

Father Leon Strieder of the Diocese of Austin was honored with the fourth annual Alleluia Award which recognizes a member for distinguished service to the mission of the Federation.

The FDLC’s highest honor, the prestigious Frederick R. McManus Award was presented to the Liturgical Press of Collegeville in recognition of its 90 years of outstanding contributions to liturgical scholarship and ministerial formation. Publisher Peter Dwyer accepted the award on behalf of the staff and monks of the abbey.

The FDLC was founded in 1969 by the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy.