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Catholic Hospice Services in South NJ

Catholic Hospice and Palliative Care for Patients and Families

To support the Directives and Catholics in our community, Samaritan launched Via Lucis – The Samaritan Ministry for Catholic hospice patients and their families – in 2006, with the assistance of The Dioceses of Camden and Trenton.

The program is shepherded by a team of South Jersey Catholic hospice and palliative care professionals whose guidance emphasizes reverence and sensitivity for Catholic sacraments, traditions, and moral teachings.

Quick Links:
  Catholicism and Hospice | Role of Spiritual Support Counselor | Benefits of Hospice | FAQs | Returning Catholics | Resources & Tools

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

Want to Learn More About Our Catholic Hospice Services?

Approaching end of life is a sacred time. It’s a final season to seek closure in this life and prepare for the next in hope of sharing in Christ’s Resurrection.

Samaritan’s mission for Catholic hospice patients and their families is Via Lucis or a Way of Light. This concept was inspired by The Stations of Resurrection and the most joyful time in the Christian liturgical year. It symbolizes a devotion to participate in the life and joy of the Risen Lord now and forever — even during end of life.

Pope Francis said, “Christians can find hope even at the hour of death, which faith teaches us is not a closed door, but a wide-open passage to a new life with Christ.”1 He adds that Christians must become “accomplices” of love, armed with the faith and able to help families navigate the “very difficult path of death…”2

During this journey to stand before God in judgement, you may have questions about Catholic hospice care and how it pertains to assisted suicide, nutrition and hydration, euthanasia and your faith. We invite you to continue reading as we explore Catholicism and hospice care.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

If you live in South Jersey and have questions about Catholic hospice care for your loved one,
please call Samaritan at (800) 229-8183.

Benefits of Catholic Hospice & Palliative Care

The Church affirms that death is not the end of life, but the beginning of life eternal. Additionally, all life, from conception to natural death, is sacred, and those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect.

Hospice care provides that special respect through the following benefits of care:

Catholic hospice is peace of mind for you and your loved ones. The expert medical team is available 24-hours a day through on-call staffing. If you have a question or a crisis, a hospice expert is ready to help – even in the middle of the night. Watch this video about our after hours staff.

Care is provided where you live, whether it’s your own home or that of a loved one, or an assisted living facility, or a nursing home community. The focus is on creating a peaceful, dignified environment that brings comfort to you and your loved ones.

Hospice helps you maintain dignity in your final days. The USCCB states that, “something essential is missed whenever [someone’s] dignity is overlooked.” Every person possesses a God-given dignity. And utilizing hospice care services at the end of life insures this dignity is honored. Hospice care keeps you or your loved one clean, comfortable, and as pain free as possible – the foundations of dignity.

Hospice care also focuses on your individual needs and choices. The hospice team asks you:

  • “What do I need to know about you and your traditions to provide you the best possible care?”
  • “What are your goals of care for this sacred journey?”
  • “What’s important to you during this revered time?”

The Catholic Hospice Spiritual Support Kit

Samaritan developed a special Catholic hospice kit for each Catholic patient and family to assemble a Table of Blessing for their loved one who is gravely ill. The kit includes holy water, a plastic rosary, two prayer cards, a Catholic Devotional, and a crucifix. The Via Lucis Committee hopes that this lovingly assembled selection of sacramentals will help you and your family find hope, grace, and the solace of prayer as you support each other on this sacred journey.

 Catholic Hymns of Hope and Inspiration

Catholic hospice hymns

Samaritan also created Hymns of Hope and Inspiration, a selection of Catholic hymns sung by Brooke Carroll, including You are Mine, Amazing Grace, Ave Maria, and I am the Bread of Life. Listen here>>



If you live in South Jersey and have questions about Catholic hospice care for your loved one,
please call Samaritan at (800) 229-8183.

Mass at a Catholic church

Who Pays for Catholic Hospice Care

Catholic hospice care is covered by Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance.

You and your family are encouraged to check with your insurance provider to find out what’s included, however most hospice-related medications and medical supplies are not charged to you and your family.

Hospice also helps families through bereavement support after the loss of your loved one. We’re still here to offer you the right amount of support after your family member passes away.

Frequently Asked Questions about Catholicism and Hospice

Does hospice care support assisted suicide?

No. Samaritan hospice care doesn’t hasten or postpone death. Additionally, there is no evidence that strong drugs used to treat pain, such as morphine, quicken the dying process when your loved one receives the right dose to control the symptoms they are experiencing. Morphine can aid in a more comfortable death, not a quicker one. Read more about hospice medications >>

Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, O.F.M., a physician and philosopher, said “every treatment must be put into context,” and because we have an ordinary obligation to respect our bodies as a gift from God, in most circumstances we have a duty to try to take health care, but we don’t have to go to absolute extremes and keep ourselves going even when it’s simply prolonging the dying process or is associated with grave suffering.”3

The Directive continues to say: “What is hardest to face is the process of dying itself, especially the dependency, the helplessness, and the pain that so often accompany terminal illness. One of the primary purposes of medicine in caring for the dying is the relief of pain and the suffering caused by it. Effective management of pain in all its forms is critical in the appropriate care of the dying.”


The Catechism of the Church states, “decisions should be made by the patient [or their caregiver], and in accordance with their morals,” meaning that your intention is not to cause the death of your loved one.

Does hospice care support withholding nutrition and hydration?

No. The Church teaches that nutrition and hydration, like bathing and changing a person’s position to avoid bedsores, is ordinary care that is owed to the patient. A patient can have a feeding tube while receiving hospice care.

However, when you become seriously ill, your appetite decreases. When you near the end of life, your body’s need for food and end-of-life nutrition is also altered due to decreased activity and metabolic changes.

The Church says nutrition and hydration may be discontinued when you cannot achieve your natural purposes, such as when the body can no longer process them.

Many families struggle to get their loved one to eat and it can cause friction. Samaritan hospice care experts advise families to avoid such a “food struggle” by allowing their loved one to eat what they want when they want.

But note that your loved one can benefit from withholding nutrition at the end of life or not eating when they don’t want to. The body becomes unable to process food as your loved one declines. It naturally knows that it’s time to accept less and less food and fluid. Eating can actually lead to added discomfort from a weakened digestive system.  Read More About Eating & Drinking at the End of Life>>

The Catechism of the Church says nutrition and hydration can be removed when it allows a person to die from an underlying condition, rather than unnecessarily prolonging their suffering. For example, in the last hours, even days, of a cancer patient’s life, or if a sick person’s body is no longer able to process food and water, there is no moral obligation to provide nutrition and hydration. The patient will die of their disease or their organ failure before starvation or dehydration could kill them.4

Does hospice care support withholding medical procedures and equipment?

Choosing Catholic hospice care means choosing comfort, support, and dignity. It also means choosing to forego any curative or life-prolonging treatments.

With that in mind, sometimes medical procedures and life-sustaining treatments are “burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary or disproportionate,” as written in the Catechism of the Church, article 2278 about the respect for human life.

Hospice care provides special respect for you and your loved one and includes a personalized care plan to meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs fulfilling the Ethical and Religious Directives set to guide Catholics when making healthcare decisions.

Furthermore, the Church does not promote vitalism (preserving physical life at all costs), but rather asks us to embrace the virtues of fidelity (faithfulness to those in need), compassion (suffering with those who are suffering), and individual dignity.

It is permissible for a person to refuse medical treatment “when death is imminent and cannot be prevented by the remedies used” (Euthanasia, CDF, 1980) or when the “means [medical treatments] are those that in the patient’s judgment do not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or entail an excessive burden, or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.” (ERD, 57)

 About Samaritan’s Catholic Hospice

To live in a manner worthy of our human dignity, and to spend our final days on this earth in peace and comfort, surrounded by loved ones — that is the hope of each of us. In particular, Christian hope sees these final days as a time to prepare for our eternal destiny. USCCB – “To Live Each Day with Dignity”

The Ethical and Religious Directives state that a “Catholic health care institution will be a community of respect, love, and support” for patients and their families as they face end of life. This document, presented by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), serves as a guide for today’s Catholics regarding certain moral issues as they relate to health care. Samaritan Hospice’s Catholic services provide comfort, support, and dignity during your end-of-life journey.


What is The Role of the Spiritual Support Counselor?

The spiritual support counselor is a key role of the interdisciplinary hospice team. Samaritan counselors serve as non-denominational advisers and can meet the spiritual needs of all patients and their families. They’re ready to journey with you whenever the path of your life – and faith – leads.

Our experienced counselors are Catholic chaplains, pastors, reverends, and rabbis who are ready to provide you the best possible spiritual care. Counselors have board certifications in Catholic Chaplaincy, Master’s Degrees in Pastoral Care & Counseling, Certifications in Marriage and Family Therapy, and Certifications in Pastoral Counseling. They also have Master’s and Doctorates in Ministry, Clinical Fellowships in Hospice and Palliative Care, and Rabbinic fellowships.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me.

The counselors can help encourage meaningful life reflection, explore spiritual concerns, provide a safe space for doubt, make sense out of life’s changes, address anger and fears, and much more as it relates to your faith.

The counselor can also make Catholic community connections like coordinating a visit from your priest, providing Holy Communion, and fulfilling a request for the Sacrament of the Sick. The counselor can recite prayers, like The Lord’s Prayer, or read passages from The Bible like Psalms 23, and read and/or discuss various Scripture.

| | When to Call for the Sacrament of the Sick? (PDF) | |

Welcome Home to Your Faith

Did you know that towards the ends of life, about 95 percent of Catholics who have been away from the regular practice of their faith express a desire to return to their faith?

The Samaritan Hospice Via Lucis Committee, along with Samaritan’s spiritual support counselors, are prepared to assist you to be welcomed by the Church, if that is what you desire. Your spiritual needs are very important to us. Our ministries will nurture you as you return to your Catholic faith. We’re ready to journey with you wherever the path of your life leads.

rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
Joel 2:13

 Catholic Hospice Resources & Tools

If you live in South Jersey and have questions about Catholic hospice care for your loved one,
please call Samaritan at (800) 229-8183.