Dying is the most important thing every human being does, says Cardinal

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Cardinal Vincent Nichols was at St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney in London’s east end on Tuesday, 11 June, to officially open and bless its newly-refurbished St Michael’s Ward.

St Joseph’s Hospice provides high quality specialist palliative care and support to people nearing the end of their lives, and to their loved ones. Services include in-patient, out-patient, day care, respite care, advice and support in the individual’s home or care home, and bereavement support.

Having spent time with staff and patients, St Joseph’s Patron Cardinal Nichols praised the hospice movement for helping so many people die with dignity:

“A cousin of mine started a number of hospices in Peru and in other parts of the world like Pakistan. He always said that dying was the most important thing every human being does – knowing how to end this life and enter the next life. That’s the work of a hospice.

“When personal or family care reaches its limit, hospices make such a difference to the way in which a person can die with dignity, providing respite care, renewal care, or end of life care.”

Hospices, he said, are situated at a crucial moment in a person’s life:

“To die with dignity means to die surrounded by those who love you and who care for you. In that sense, they accompany us to this last great act of handing our life back to God when He calls. So the hospice movement is situated at one of the most crucial moments in a person’s life. I am grateful for the way that it has been developed, in partnership with the NHS, and for providing, in so many places, care for people at their end of life and at the beginning of their eternal life.”

Cardinal Nichols also praised the exemplary care available at St Joseph’s and for its service to the local community:

“St Joseph’s Hospice here in Hackney has some very special qualities. One of the most important aspects is that it is deeply rooted in this local community, and the people in the East End of London have a strong sense of place, and a strong sense of identity.

“You can see that the walls behind me are bare, but the pictures are going to hung – photographs of the Hackney area. So even in the decoration of these wards, its roots in this area will be demonstrated and strengthened. That is a great characteristic of St Joseph’s – it belongs here, it has grown up from here, and it is serving the people in this part of London.

“God bless St Joseph’s Hospice.”

Day for Life

Day for Life is the day in the Church’s year dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. In 2024, the theme is The Lord is my Shepherd – Compassion and Hope at the End of Life. You can access resources here.

You can also listen to a podcast, produced in partnership with the Centre for the Art of Dying Well, that goes behind the scenes at St Joseph’s Hospice to challenge stereotypes and find out more about its high quality patient-centred care for the dying person.

Listen below or visit our podcast section to subscribe.

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