On Friday afternoon, May 29th, Fathers Álvaro Tamblay, CM and Cristopher Groff, CM, visited the Hospital Luis Tizné located within the parish boundaries of Santa María Reina del Mundo (Mary, Queen of the World). They (as well as many other who have ministered in this parish) went to this hospital in order to bring spiritual assistance to the patients (parishioners and non-parishioners). This time, however, there was a difference … they were caring for those persons who had been infected with the Covid-19 virus, some of whom were in very critical condition. They are our brothers and sisters and are part of the lot of our inheritance. Therefore, it was necessary to take a risk … and yes, we were aware of the dangerous nature of this virus and the ease with which one can become infected. The doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals (the front-line workers) are not exempt from becoming infected. In fact, the statistics reveal that many of these workers have been infected and have died. Priests are not immune either. The risk exists and it is great … but there are risks that must be taken. This was understood by these two young priests, sons of Saint Vincent de Paul and understood by all who visited the hospital on Friday.
This visit was carried out on behalf of the patients as well as on behalf of the many men and women who today are called heroes … those men and women who are attempting to save lives but who, at the same time, are risking their own lives and the lives of their family.
Our two missionaries engaged in this ministry with great emotion and joy … and with much concern. The health care professionals told them that is was necessary to take care of themselves and adhere to the safety measures that had been put in place. They also added: “remember what Saint Vincent said: turn over the coin and you will see the face of the poor, the face of those persons whom the Son of God came to serve”.
These confreres were welcomed by the health care professionals who were viewed as the presence of God alive in the midst of the hospital. Some of these individuals cried and others took advantage of the presence of these priests and asked to participate in the sacrament of reconciliation.
In the minds and hearts of these two missionaries and in the minds of hearts of all of us, the words of prophet Isaiah resonate as never before … words that Jesus assured his listeners were being fulfilled in him and words that Saint Vincent adopted as motivating words for the spirit and action of the Little Company: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and he sends me forth to proclaim Good News to the poor… to heal the wounded… to free the captives…