Heart Attack during Mass


I agree with this.



[/LIST] at a church near me the priest colapsed. Several people came to his aid. He insisted the hand him the chalice. They assumed he just wanted a drink. Turner out he felt he had to complete the consecration. He got a pacemaker and he is doing great



Unless the priest is also a trained medical professional, about the best thing for the priest to do WOULD to be to continue to say Mass.

The person and their family would certainly be in need of prayer, and what stronger prayer is there than the Holy Mass?



Just to add to Fr David’s replies, the priest basically has to judge whether or not to continue with the mass (at that time). In some case, the level of disruption might be too great or prolonged to continue (projectile vomiting perhaps…), while in others continuing with the mass might well be the most pastoral response. There’s one slight catch that nobody has brought up yet however. While the priest is *able *to leave the sanctuary during the mass (although they shouldn’t) if they have started the consecration then they must finish it, although this can be done at a later time if need be.



The priest must continue the mass without interruption. He is not allowed to go to someone’s aid, especially when there are others who can help the distressed person.

I went to Catholic school for twelve years, and we learned that the priest cannot stop the mass for any reason.



There is a difference between out and out stopping the Mass and taking a momentary pause in the Mass.

While I believe most times the priest decides it’s best to just continue the Mass and let others attend to an ill person, priests can and do sometimes take time to pray with an ill person.



In the short time I have been Catholic there have been 2 medical
emergencies during mass. Both times the priests continued with the mass. The paramedics came and did their jobs and took the patients away. The first time it bothered me but the second time it didn’t.
I felt the person was in good hands.



At one of my previous parishes, we had a written policy concerning sickness during a Mass. (We also had policies for fire alarms, weather emergencies, and more.) Our big concern was that the ambulance would be in the main driveway. At the end of Mass, it would be nearly impossible for the ambulance to get out quickly if they needed to. So our policy was that the Presider and Music Director would both immediately be notified by an usher to let us know what was going on. We would decide whether or not to pause Mass at that point.

At one of the Masses where this happened, a parishioner fell ill during Communion. EMS was called. When Communion was over, the Presider asked everyone to not leave (and clog the driveway exit) and to pray for a sick parishioner and that help was on the way. Fire and EMS arrived quickly, assessed the patient, took him to the ambulance. NOTE: medics often do things in the ambulance like start IVs before starting to move.

So we kept an eye on the ambulance in the driveway, and when they left, we continued Mass with the Prayer after Communion and an additional prayer for the person (who got better and returned a couple of weeks later). Total time: 5-6 minutes.

Everyone reading this post should instigate a written policy for your parish that takes into consideration many things, including where in the Mass the emergency is occurring and how it might affect the flow and the end of Mass. I actually gave a presentation to our diocesan safety meeting about our policy to share it with the diocese. Mass can pause - it’s possibly the pastoral thing to do for the ill person. Or just ask what Jesus might do in such a circumstance.

After you have the policy in place (and check with your fire and EMS folks to see if they can add anything), then hope you never have to use it.



Many of us tell our priest…
don’t preach, let the lay people do it
don’t distribute Communion; let the lay people do it.
don’t read the scripture; let the lay people do it.
Someone having a medical emergency at Mass; why didn’t the priest do anything.

His job is to say Mass. Lay people are there; this in our job!

Step up.



:thumbsup: Yes!!!:thumbsup:
In fact, the Mass is the highest and most solemn prayer that can be done!

I would say that the priest, if anointing is not needed, continue the sacrifice of the Mass as this brings Jesus and God closer to all involved in a real and physical way!

May God bless the sick!



The priest should never leave the sanctuary during the Mass.



An opinion, to be sure, but not any liturgical rubric.

I’m somewhat taken aback at the attitudes/responses of some - ignore a sick person, Mass is more important? There are degrees to consider, of course, but “when I was hungry, you gave me food, … thirsty, you gave me drink,…” Ill, you let me lie there but prayed for me?



You have this correct. When there is a medical emergency it should be attended too, and if that has to include the Priest he can certainly stop the Mass. It seems there needs to be some basic training among laity and clergy on how to handle medical emergencies during Mass.



Once a person starts to assist another in a medical emergency that person is in charge of the situation, until someone arrives who has more training. For example, a lay person trained in CPR and First Aid might start to help and then a nurse comes along. She can take over or simply assist the lay person. But only those providing care should be in charge until trained Emergency Personal are there.

The Priest can choose to continue the Mass or stop to provide sacraments. The rest of the congregation needs to stay put with the exception of any person who has been directed to wait for the ambulance etc. I think it wise that Ushers be trained in “crowd control” and even basic CPR and First Aid to help place some focus on your parish procedures. Still, if the usher is not the first one to provide assistance he is required to follow the instructions of the person who initiated the emergency process.

And if in doubt always call 911. Never assume that someone else has done that.



I have seen Father halt Mass and come and anoint someone who was having a heart attack. thank the LORD for our donated defibulator.



Please check the rubics of the Mass again-- you will find this is not just my opinion, but is clearly stated. Having said that, I am sure one could conjure up some situation where they would not apply.



The priest is not just letting the victim “lie there.” Further, no one has suggested ignoring the sick person.

If anointing is needed, any priest would do so.

However, there’s nothing about being a priest that makes a man more qualified to administer medical attention, and indeed, it makes him less likely to have had such training. If I’m the one having a heart attack, I would want a doctor, nurse, EMT, or someone with proper training taking care of me, and the priest doing his job, which is to pray.

If the priest is truly needed (as a priest), then someone will surely bring him over, and any priest would pause the Mass to do what needs to be done. At the same time, though, stopping the Mass and making the victim the center of everyone’s attention often does more harm than good. And I’m saying that both as a priest and as a former first responder.



I find it strange that some people think there should be a one-size-fits-all answer.

The OP’s original questions were:

What is the proper action for the presiding priest to take? Can he halt the Mass and go pray with the patient/family?

Well, the best answer for both questions is, “It depends.”

There are just too many factors to consider, including (but not limited to) the nature of the emergency; the size, layout, and location of the Church; the number of people in attendance; and the current point in the Mass.

The poster who said that a parish should have some kind of procedures in place for emergencies probably has the right idea. But even then the procedures will include steps to evaluate the situation and take steps that depend on circumstances.



You are correct. A simple step for most parishes would be to pay for CPR and First Aid Training for adults and children for Ushers and say Eucharistic Ministers in the parish. There are usually several of these folks at almost every Mass, and when the Eucharistic Ministers are serving in that capacity, they are usually at Mass anyway. Having a core group of people trained so there is always someone present at any given Mass is helpful.

Discuss the types of emergencies that might be unique to your location with these folks and say at Parish Council. Are you in an area that might be hit with flooding issues or fire issues? Does your Parish have a lot of elderly attending Mass, or disabled folks? Are there a lot of children, or is your Parish older demographically? Are you in the middle of the city or out in the “sticks.”

All these things can help format a plan and make it functional in an emergency. Being even a little prepared is better than nothing.


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