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Hospital Ministry and the Burning Bush

Hospital Ministry and the Burning Bush

by Carl Brown

The alarm didn’t go off that morning. Too many thoughts in my head kept me from sleeping in— or sleeping at all. Thoughts about work, thoughts about my father-in-law’s health, about five other plates spinning in the air.

A text message from my daughter cleared my thoughts.

“Are you going to the hospital with Mom?”

Before I could respond, “no,” I could see that she was still typing. I paused. “If not, I’ll go.”

Uh-oh. Why would she say that? She’s a nurse. She must know something.

I called and re-arranged my schedule and we drove what seemed like hours to visit my wife’s dad. The medical team was somber. It was time to think about the next steps. All of a sudden, things got serious.

There was no time to call our pastor, and my father-in-law wasn’t part of any parish nearby. My wife and her siblings talked about options. Then my wife asked at the Nursing Station if we could see a priest. We were holding hands and wringing hands as the uncertainty hung in the room.

Suddenly, a priest came into the room and brought peace and reassurance. He led us in prayer, and he anointed the sick. Twenty minutes later, my father-in-law breathed his last breath. The stiff, somber silence had turned to a sigh of relief; a gentle reprieve.

What a gift that, at a moment’s notice, far from our parish we could share the sacraments with my Father-in-law. Being that far from home, I was glad to find out that in our Archdiocese, hospital chaplains staff 8 major hospitals Little did I know, Hospital Ministry was supported by the Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA).

“As Hospital Chaplains, we are constantly facing trauma and acute situations.” Father Tom Wray visits dozens of patients every day. “These are real ‘Burning Bush’ moments, because death meets life, the physical meets the spiritual, man meets God, and we, as chaplains, are privileged to be there with the sick and their families, standing on Holy Ground.”

Across the Archdiocese, Fr. Ron Combs (Director of Health and Hospital Ministries for the Archdiocese), Fr. Tom Wray, and other hospital chaplains and volunteers bring the Eucharist, and other sacraments with them into more than 40,000 patient visits per year.

“The word ‘salvation’ has, as its root, the word ‘salve,’ which is ‘to heal.’ As we meet with patients and their families, Catholics and non-Catholics, at pivotal moments in their lives, this is the work of salvation.”

[Alan Willis (not pictured above) died on September 27, 2022. May he rest in peace.]

THANK YOU for supporting the Catholic Ministries Appeal!

Click HERE to learn how the CMA supports Campus, Hospital, and Prison Ministries.