Ask a Priest – Cancer and Church



I have a friend, a co-worker recently diagnosed with cancer, facing chemotherapy and radiotherapy and possible surgery.  She admits she has not been an active churchgoer, and indicates that she does not plan to start now.

My question: is it important for her to go to church and confess to God that she is sorry for having not gone to church in the past, or should she continue to just lean on the prayer of herself and others?


I’m sure you can be a help and comfort to your friend and co worker at this difficult time for her by encouraging her in her faith.  Maybe she can turn to the bible and prayer for support if she doesn’t have any desire to return to her church.

For example you might sit and talk with her as a friend and share a few passages of the bible which speak of God’s love and the comfort the Lord wishes to give us.  Some of the Psalms might be a good place to start; and begin with short selections such as the following:

“Whenever I am anxious and worried, you comfort me and make me glad.”

(Psalm 94:19)

“Even in my suffering I was comforted because your promise gave me life.”

(Psalm 119:50)

Also, in John’s Gospel, Jesus said:

“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die; and those who live and believe in me will never die.” John 11:25

Through encouragement and a positive attitude your friend just might return to a more active part in her faith community or church where she would hopefully find fellowship support and strength.

If she chooses not to return to active faith or health won’t allow, there are many ways that God still welcomes her.

Peter Monty, SJ is Chaplain for the Deaf in Ottawa.


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