WASHINGTON, D.C. — Texas Bishop Mark J. Seitz — who tested negative for the coronavirus Oct. 15, and was released from quarantine by the El Paso County Health Department the previous day — urged Catholics to “make tough choices” now to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“Not getting together with family members and friends like we want to,” keeping social distances and wearing face masks reflects a Christian care for others, the bishop of El Paso, Texas, said in a video that his diocese released the same day in Spanish and English.
Seitz also stressed that Catholic Christians have to demonstrate a love that is “concerned for the well-being of others — a love that sacrifices,” which he said reflects an understanding that faith isn’t “just a ‘me and God’ relationship.”
“We have a relationship with one another and with God,” he said. If our relationship with one another isn’t a loving, caring one, he added, then we can’t think we can have a close relationship with God, as these go “hand in hand.”
The bishop, who had a low-grade fever for a few days, has not had a fever since Oct. 5 and has not exhibited any symptoms since then. He previously tested positive for the virus twice and exhibited mild symptoms, which is why he was placed on quarantine.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the El Paso community for all of their prayers for my recovery,” he said in a statement.
He offered his prayers for “all those in our community and throughout the world currently afflicted with this virus, especially for those who are hospitalized.” He also said he was praying for “our local, state and national governments as well as all health officials on the front lines (that) they continue to address this pandemic.”
In the video, Seitz said when he was told he tested positive for the coronavirus, he didn’t know how he could have caught it and he didn’t fully believe it, but when a second test was positive, he concluded that he “picked it up somewhere.”
While in quarantine, he said, he was “just waiting each day to see if other shoe would fall, but thanks be to God my case was very mild.”
He said he adapted to quarantine pretty well and found it nice to have some days that “weren’t as heavily scheduled,” which enabled him to do some reading in between Zoom meetings.
“There’s a joy being back in the community again,” he said, noting that he looked forward to that aspect of his improved health.
The bishop said he felt a “certain kinship” with those who have suffered through the virus or had friends or family members affected. Even though he didn’t suffer the serious affects that many have experienced, he said he had to “look in the eye all of these possibilities.”
He urged diocesan Catholics to continue to take the coronavirus seriously and to also remember it will not be here forever. Seitz also said his heart goes out to all those who have suffered because of COVID-19.
“Perhaps, in some way, God granted me that opportunity to just be a little bit closer to all of those who are going through this at this time,” he added.