Clearly you were honored with the name Panteleimon by God for like Him you were merciful. In accordance with your ways,you were given a fitting name. For you show mercy and sympathy to all, and you provide them with two-fold remedies. Feeding and curing them as you do, O glorious and blessed Saint, you direct them to divine and splendid knowledge of Christ. — From the Lauds of Orthros of the Feast of Saint Panteleimon

I would like to draw our attention to one of the many wonderful Saints of our Church commemorated in the month of July. This is Saint Panteleimon whose Feast Day we celebrate on July 27th.  As the hymn above so beautifully illustrates, Saint Panteleimon was a healing saint that had mercy and compassion for others, healing them and directing them toward Go

This hymn and the ministry of Saint Panteleimon offer beautiful insight into how we can intentionally minister to our flocks.  The local parish is a place where the faithful should come to understand that they can find healing.  It is a place where they should feel understood, loved, cared for and directed toward Christ. 

It is important to create an atmosphere in the parish that allows people to comfortably come to worship and offer up their pains and sorrows to God in prayer, so that they too can find healing.  The sacraments of Holy Unction and Holy Confession should be stressed often, so that people are aware that these sacraments are offered to bring them closer to Christ and make them whole.  The Sunday sermon should convey to the people that our faith must be applied to our lives and that the Church has the answers for which they are searching.

Finding ways to communicate and connect with our people when they are in need is important.  How often do we learn things about someone after the fact, like when someone was in the hospital or going through a crisis?  In fact, sometimes people get upset that no one from the Church visited them or their loved ones at a time of need even though they did not inform the Church about the crises. Many times people are afraid to call the priest because they do not want the sick person to think that they are dying. Sometimes people feel for whatever reason that the priest is too busy and they do not want to bother him with their troubles.  Having an understanding about the signals the parish gives or the impressions parishioners may develop is important in the process of connecting to people and ministering to them.

The prayers and sacraments of the Church are so powerful and certainly direct us to Christ.  Reflecting on the ministry of Saint Panteleimon reminds us to continue to be vigilant in looking after the physical and spiritual needs of our fellow parishioners, whether we are clergy or laity.  The clergy and laity, working together, must develop new ways to reach out to the faithful in our ever changing environment which has its constant needs and demands. Many parishes have excellent visitation ministries and it would be great to share ideas of how we organize these ministries, so that we can learn from one another.

May the prayers of Saint Panteleimon be with us as we discern ways to care for those that the Lord has entrusted to us supporting them in their struggles and in their walk with Christ!