Maintaining a prayerful presence

Barb Arland-Fye
Kent Ferris, center, leads Morning Prayer outside Pearl Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Muscatine on Aug. 14.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Deacon candidate Kent Ferris organized a small gathering for Morning Prayer on Aug. 14 outside Pearl Valley Rehab in Muscatine to pray for residents, staff and all persons affected by COVID-19.

Ferris, who also directs the Diocese of Davenport’s Social Action Office and Catholic Charities, felt compelled to pray outside the nursing home that had received citations for violations related to how it handled COVID-19 cases at the facility.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Health Facilities Division issued the citations pertaining to a COVID-19 outbreak in April. By mid-May, “the home had documented 61 cases of residents testing positive for COVID-19. Nine of them died. The number of infections would later grow to 81,” reporter Clark Kauffman reported in the Iowa Capital Dispatch on July 27.


“My intention is to join together in prayer along the sidewalk in front of the rehab center, to remember those who have died and to pray for the residents and staff in order that basic human dignity can be upheld to those in great need,” Ferris said in an invitation to his fellow deacon candidates and others to participate.

Last month, Ferris and a small group of deacon formation classmates, parishioners and family members prayed across the road from Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Columbus Junction to pray Morning Prayer for the safety and well-being of meatpacking plant workers. “We did so remembering those who have been affected by COVID-19, those who have died and now those who return to work,” Ferris said in an interview afterwards with The Catholic Messenger.

Future prayer events are a possibility. “I am ever mindful of recent words from Pope Francis:  ‘faith exhorts us to commit ourselves seriously and actively to combat indifference in the face of violations of human dignity; faith always requires us to let ourselves be healed and to convert from our individualism, both personal and collective,’” Ferris said.

“In so doing, and in the words of the pope, may the Lord restore our sight so as to rediscover what it means to be members of the human family.”

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