- Apr 16, 2021
With local hospitals tightening restrictions for entering the rooms of patients with COVID-19, Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis is addressing an important pastoral need — administering the sacrament of the anointing of the sick to those suffering from the illness who are in danger of dying.
These days, the job description of hospital chaplain has changed due to the historically stringent safety restrictions now in place at all hospitals due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more than a month, churches have been empty. No baptisms, no weddings, no confessions heard. Priests celebrate Masses alone, livestreaming them on the internet. But they still go out to people who are dying to administer the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, even to those who are suffering from the virus.
Father Paul Marquis sits in his office at Mercy Hospital, waiting. He often notices how the usually busy corridors outside have grown quiet recently. Strict visitor regulations are in place, and staff schedules have been drastically altered to cover any possibility of a surge during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the coronavirus claims tens of thousands of American lives, spiritual counselors are facing an already daunting job, rendered life-altering by the pandemic: Bringing faith and connection to the sick and bereaved and honoring the dead.
For all priests in the Diocese of Worcester, ministry to the sick and dying in these days of the coronavirus pandemic is changed. Nineteen priests in the diocese have been trained to be designated ministers to the sick
Clergy from the Archdiocese of Birmingham are training to be chaplains in the emergency “Nightingale hospital” being prepared to deal with the expected overflow of patients caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s time for me to be paroled,” joked Father Ron Cloutier as he retired from directing Correctional Ministries for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston after more than 40 years providing for the spiritual needs of people in prison.