'Ministries of Mercy’


I read with special interest the article (CNY, May 21) about the 25 priests who had volunteered to live in isolation to be able to minister to the sick in hospitals and nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Dan Pietrafesa’s informative and encouraging article described the work of four of the young priests who were selected.

What does it take, I wondered, for someone to move toward contamination instead of reflexively away from it?

Before there was Mother Teresa, there was Father Damien. As she did in the slums of India with the poorest of the poor, he did with the quarantined lepers on the island of Molokai.

Quite simply, I guess it takes a saint. Both of these saints’ stories, of course, reflect a lifetime commitment to such ministries of mercy.

One hopes for long and varied lives in services of many kinds and dimensions for these young priests of today. I am heartened by their response to push through fear, take sensible measures to protect themselves and then to be there with people, often in their dying hours.

Certainly, the cruelest part of the past months is to require families to keep away from a dying loved one because of efforts to mitigate this virus for the common good. These priests managed to brook that barrier, and others soon recognized the faith that motivated them. By their fruits you will know them.

Joe R. Struble