- Aug 3, 2020
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.
Amy Love had to leave the Memphis hospital where she brings music to severely ill children — she and other support staff couldn’t take the risk of spreading COVID-19 to these frail patients. But she was determined: The music must not stop.
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.