Caring for The Whole Person

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord who care for the most vulnerable of the Lord’s people,

St. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, addresses theological and pastoral needs in the community with a heart so full of prayer that he often breaks out in extended prayer in the course of the letter itself. He prays:

that [the Father] may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love…may be filled with all the fullness of God.

In a time when divisions are palpable, politics divide and chaos seems to reign, and we strive for holiness as a Church, we never cease to hold close to us those who are vulnerable in our midst. The Caring for the Whole Person Initiative is one powerful way that the Church seeks to accompany those most in need, as we aim for the following vision that Persons in our congregations, communities and health care systems are loved, wanted and worthy, and will be prepared for and supported in health and serious illness through the end of life. The Caring for the Whole Person initiative is the fruit of ongoing prayer and reflection among the Bishops of California and the leaders of Catholic Health Care. We can be very grateful for, and proud of this ongoing initiative.

The “Classic Catholic Approach” is always that where there is a “NO” there must be a “YES”! Thus, we must do more than say “No” to the culture of death; we must say “Yes” to the fullness of the God of love and life! To that end, the Diocese of Orange spearheaded the first local conference, the Whole Person Care Conference, first of its kind as part of the larger statewide Caring for the Whole Person Initiative, a collaborative project of the California Catholic Conference and the Alliance of Catholic Health Care.

Thank you to those that joined us on the Christ Cathedral campus on Thursday, October 25, 2018 and shared with others this endeavor to uplift the sacredness of life through all its blessed stages. The Whole Person Care Conference was a day-long summit, gathering professional care providers, community health leaders, parish volunteers, and clergy to learn how together we can make the Caring for the Whole Person vision a reality.

As a pastor who also has a background in Catholic Health Care (as medical technologist at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois), I have been grateful to be involved with this initiative from its very beginning. Let us pray for the fullness of God to fill all our days and every generation:

Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Gratefully yours in the Lord,

Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, J.C.D., D.D.
Bishop of Orange in California

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The Caring for the Whole Person Initiative is a new comprehensive approach to caring for the sick and dying spearheaded by Catholic healthcare, the Catholic Church, community healthcare providers, and public health leaders. This effort seeks to remake how our healthcare system addresses death and dying and lays out a vision for a network of care that addresses both the physical and spiritual dimensions of care.

This day- long summit was open to professional care providers, community health leaders, parish volunteers, and clergy. Speakers included Ira Byock, MD, Megory Anderson, PhD. and Most Rev. Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange. To view videos of the Whole Person Care Conference on October 25, 2018, please click here.

Care, Prepare & Connect- END GAME film screening & discussion
After a showing of the brief but powerful film End Game, a panel discussion will address questions about suffering and end of life ethics, accessing quality care, discussions about Advance Care Planning, and accompaniment and caring pastorally in our parish communities. We will model conversations and care helping every person to know that they are loved, wanted, and worthy through the end of life’s journey. To host this event at your parish, please reach out to Alejandra Luna at [email protected]. Below is a list of past parish presentations!

  • Christ Cathedral Parish
  • Christ Our Savior
  • Blessed Sacrament
  • Mission Basilica, San Juan Capistrano
  • Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
  • Our Lady Queen of Angels
  • St. Cecilia
  • St. Edward the Confessor
  • St. Irenaeus
  • St. Joachim
  • St. John the Baptist
  • St. Joseph
  • St. Timothy
  • St. Bonaventure
  • St. Boniface (Spanish)
  • Holy Family

“As Church and Catholic health care leaders in California, we believe that physician-assisted suicide, while legal, is not yet an entrenched cultural or clinical reality. Recognizing this, we are committed to developing together, and in collaboration with other leaders in the palliative care field, a medical and pastoral approach to care through the end of life that provides a dignified, compassionate, and loving alternative to physician-assisted suicide for seriously ill people and their families. Our intent is to create a Church and Catholic health care collaborative model that serves our California parishioners and patients well, and that can be replicated by Church and Catholic health care leaders in other states.”


The Caring for the Whole Person Initiative is a collaborative project of the California Catholic Conference and the Alliance of Catholic Health Care. This initiative has a two-fold purpose:

  • Strengthen and improve the availability of Caring for the Whole Person and palliative care in Catholic health systems and their hospitals;
  • Develop and implement Caring for the Whole Person programs in dioceses and parishes.


  • The Health Care Systems and Dioceses commit to the implementation of Caring for the Whole Person in each of their hospitals and parishes. Each Health Care Ministry and Diocese will achieve continuous improvement over time in their Caring for the Whole Person programs, based on their current and future budgets and strategic priorities.
  • The Initiative will provide each Health Ministry, Diocese and Parish with tools, resources, guidance, and other supports to implement Caring for the Whole Person. The Health Ministries and Parishes will annually report their progress to their Health Care Systems and Dioceses, which then would report their overall progress to the Leadership Council.


Persons in our congregations, communities and health care systems are loved, wanted and worthy, and will be prepared for and supported in health and serious illness through the end of life.

Adapted from: Ira R. Byock, MD, PSJH Institute for Human Caring

  • Providing shelter from the elements: We say to the other person, “We will keep you warm and dry.”
  • Maintaining hygiene: “We will keep you clean.”
  • Assisting with elimination: “We will help you with your bowel and bladder function.”
  • Offering food and drink: “We will offer you something to eat and drink—and help you to do it.”
  • Keeping company, non-abandonment: “We will be with you. You will not have to go through this time in your life alone.”
  • Alleviating suffering: “We will do whatever we can, with as much skill and expertise as available, to lessen your discomfort.”


Our Mission: To a wounded world in need of healing and compassion, Emmaus Spiritual Ministries brings together all paths leading to God.

Our Vision: Emmaus Spiritual Ministries serves as a sacred epicenter responding to spiritual needs of local and global communities of faith.

Our Values: We value the inherent dignity and spiritual nature of the human person. We desire to serve with mutuality, collaboration and compassion. We guide our endeavors within a climate of discernment.

Every day, 111,000 compassionate caregivers serve patients and communities through Providence St. Joseph Health, a national, Catholic, not-for-profit health system, comprising a diverse family of organizations and driven by a belief that health care is a human right. Rooted in the founding missions of the Sisters of Providence and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, we share a singular commitment to improve the health of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.

Providence St. Joseph Health provides accessible, high-quality, compassionate health care in an increasingly uncertain world—regardless of coverage or ability to pay. We help people and communities benefit from the best health care model for the future—today.

Established in 1987, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian has supported an expansive Health Ministries Program throughout Orange County. This spiritually-based wellness program is open to all faith traditions and is administered by the Faith Community Nurse (FCN). The purpose of the program is to support the mental, physical and spiritual health needs of those being served. Each FCN develops educational programs and interventions specific to the unique needs of their congregation as they seek a health affirming balance between the mind, body and spirit.

Since 1982, Alzheimer’s Orange County (formerly known as Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County Chapter), has been Orange County’s center for Alzheimer’s resources. We are dedicated to providing quality care and support services to the thousands of residents of Orange County who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia, and also partnering with local researchers to populate clinical trials to help find a cure.

Our mission: To provide hands-on care and support, information, referrals, education and resources for families in Orange County and surrounding areas who experience memory loss, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, while advancing critical research for a cure.