This sacrament like the other sacrament of healing suffers from a lack of clarity in its name. Some call it Extreme Unction and others the Last Rites. These are actually inaccurate names as they suggest the sacrament is for those who are dying. This is not true. The sacrament is for those who are sick. This may be a critical illness or chronic condition where we want to claim the healing power of Christ in a particular way. It is important that we see our illness as not simply being a transitory inconvenience. Anointing people that have a cold or the flu would be to trivialize the sacrament.
The sacrament is requested and can be administered at church or in a home. When a person’s illness suggests that they may die the sacrament of healing is still appropriate as its healing power is not just physical, but relates to our souls, our relationships and our memories.
If the person who needs to be anointed is in one of the big hospital downtown, there is a priest chaplain on duty who can be called. The nursing station can help you connect with them. This is much more efficient than phoning around to various parishes trying to find a priest.