It has been a long six months for most of us. I hope that you have enjoyed your summer and been able to participate in some safe social-distancing outdoor activities. As we move forward together as “One Faith, One Family,” this crisis has provided a new perspective.
Most people know someone affected by COVID-19, and some have experienced the loss of a friend or family member to the disease. People have been out of work or have lost their jobs or businesses. Tragically, I lost my great-aunt to the illness. It was very difficult for our family, especially for her sons, who could not be with her while she was sick. We had a very small social distancing funeral, all wearing masks, standing six feet apart. We could not hug each other or hold hands.
Although this was very sad and difficult, we were buoyed by the overwhelming support we received from friends, family and co-workers offering to pray for us. We received phone calls, e-mails and cards. God was always present, and the power of prayer was always with us. Friends and family were still spiritually present when they could not be with us.
The Diocese of Norwich Ministry to the Sick is a fine example of God’s presence and the power of prayer. The ministry endeavors to meet the spiritual needs of hospitalized patients regardless of religious affiliation, and especially ministers to those who are critically ill or who have specific pastoral care needs.
While COVID-19 prevented Sister Rita Johnson, director of Ministry to the Sick and chaplain at Backus Hospital, from being with patients during the shutdown, she remained spiritually present and in touch with them. Her dedication to her ministry was evident daily as she talked with patients by phone and prayed for them and their families. In addition, Sister Rita attended televised Mass every day and spent many hours praying for patients as well as the diocese and the world. Thankfully, Sister Rita is again attending to patients in the hospital, giving them her spiritual support and love. Regarding those she works with, Sister Rita shared, “The doctors, nurses and support staff have such courage, because they believe in the value of life.”
Ministry to the Sick and other diocesan ministries continue to do important work thanks to the generosity of our many donors to our “One Faith, One Family” 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal. If you have already given, thank you for your support. If you have not yet contributed, we ask you to prayerfully consider how you are best able to help our ministries. You may participate in the collection in church, give online at www.norwichdiocesedevelopment.org or make a gift or pledge by calling Heather Harris, campaign manager at the Office of Development, at (860) 886-1928, extension 111. Thank you so much.
-- By Gina Foster