By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
Diocesan Social Action Director Kent Ferris listened as healthcare providers with MercyOne Clinton Medical Center talked about the difficulty they and their patients were experiencing in dealing with COVID-19. Ferris, who serves on the Board of Ethics Review Committee for MercyOne, suggested a short prayer service as a way to lift spirits and offer encouragement. He offered to ask Bishop Thomas Zinkula to participate.
On Oct. 2, about 25 to 30 people — healthcare providers, Bishop Zinkula and Ferris — gathered via Zoom video conference for the live ecumenical prayer service. The bishop and the people of the Diocese of Davenport, whom he leads, held in prayer “those who are cared for and those who provide care at MercyOne Clinton Medical Center.” Others from MercyOne locations across eastern Iowa listened in and some listened later to the recorded service.
Ferris has organized morning prayer services at other locations in the diocese during the pandemic — outside a nursing home and near a meatpacking plant, for example —“to pray not only for those who test positive for COVID-19 but also for direct care providers and their families. It’s another facet of our responsibility to pray and to be mindful of the lived experiences of folks across the diocese,” he said.
At the start of the 13-minute service that interspersed prayers, Scripture and reflections, Ferris added to the prayer list President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, both of whom contracted COVID-19, and their family and staff.
Healthcare provider Amy Berentes read reflections from those suffering from COVID-19. “I didn’t take the virus seriously, but now, having lived through it, I will go out and tell the story … I’m so tired, fatigued… Can’t you do something to help me breathe? …I can’t eat; I’m too short of breath. … I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”
Later, she read reflections from those who have provided care to people with the coronavirus. “I can’t do this for several days in a row. It’s too much … He was fine one minute, picked up the call button and he was gone. I think he couldn’t do it anymore and just gave up. … Those who don’t think this pandemic is real; they need to come up and watch these people suffer. … I told my spouse I am depressed. … I don’t see an end. I’m scared. … I’m worried I’m going to get the virus and bring it home to my family.”
Following the reflections from the care providers, Bishop Zinkula prayed. “God who traveled before and behind the Israelites in their journey from slavery to freedom, surround and support the men and women working in your healing ministry today.”
Morning prayer with MercyOne in Clinton
By Barb Arland-Fye