In a post-Communion reflection given at the archdiocese’s annual Mass celebrating the dedicated work of health care workers and caregivers, ArchCare president and CEO Scott LaRue tenderly thanked them for the compassionate service they delivered during the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“You didn’t hesitate in fulfilling your responsibilities to serve,” LaRue told about 400 such workers and caregivers gathered June 2 for the annual White Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Mass is named for the traditional white garb worn by physicians and other health care workers.
When Covid-19 arrived in New York in March 2020, LaRue told those gathered at the morning liturgy that they “did not flinch, and you never said no”—despite not knowing what the coronavirus was, or what it might mean.
What they did know, LaRue said, was that those served by ArchCare and other health care entities “were suffering, and far too many had died.”
LaRue said that while he hopes Covid-19 will be “a once in a lifetime experience for us,” the response of health care workers was one for which “we owe all of you an incredible debt of gratitude.”
He expressed his personal thanks to Cardinal Dolan for his “unwavering support” and leadership during the pandemic. “We will always be grateful for that,” LaRue said.
Because of the pandemic, it marked the first time the Mass had been offered since 2019. Cardinal Dolan was the principal celebrant and homilist.
The opening procession featured a statue of Our Lady of Good Health commemorating the 16th-century apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Vailankanni, India. Men and women holding aloft colorful umbrellas added to the pageantry.
The cardinal, in his homily, said that the “courageous women and men” seated before him literally became “an answer to prayer” during the pandemic, evoked in the day’s responsorial psalm: “Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.”
He went back to a time at the beginning of the pandemic when people came to pray in supplication, often standing on the steps outside, because the cathedral “had to be sadly shut due to understandable health restrictions.”
The prayers being offered at the Mass, he said, were instead of gratitude.
“God brings healing and consolation through the skilled hands of physicians, nurses, first responders, volunteers, health care staffs,” said Cardinal Dolan, citing the work of organizations such as ArchCare and the Order of Malta as well as religious men and women and chaplains.
Lauding those gathered for their “hard work” delivered to many, the cardinal went on to say, “We praise God for his healing power, and I thank all of you for being heroic agents of such help through these very tough times.”
“During the pandemic, we saw nature at its worst, with a lot of fear and isolation, suffering and death abounding,” the cardinal said. “In you, beloved health care professionals, did we see humanity at its best, as we saw the Lord’s mercy and tenderness and healing flowing from you and your skills.”
LaRue, at the end of his remarks, encouraged the assembled health care workers and caregivers “to take good care of yourself.”
“Please don’t underestimate what you have been through and the time it will take to recover,” he said, adding that they should rely on their faith, their family, their colleagues and their courage.
“God bless you all.”