Health care heroes honored
The past year has been a tough one for many people due to the coronavirus pandemic, but those working in the health sector have especially struggled on the front lines and have been recognized for what they do at the 25th annual White Mass hosted by the Diocese of Youngstown.
Led by Bishop David Bonnard on Sunday at St. Columba’s Cathedral, a special mass praised the work of doctors, nurses, assistants, support staff and other health and mental health professionals. Electricity went out for most of the mass after the car hit a nearby telephone pole, but Bonnard said that burning candles in the sanctuary and sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows gave a sense of peace. How dark it was for many last year during the pandemic, but we reached the light that guided us, Bonnard said.
His message was not despair, which he said meant losing hope. He began his sermon with a joke about a nun who gave a homeless man outside a convent a $ 100 bill with a wrapped note that said don’t despair. The man returned a few days later with stacks of $ 100 bills, which he won by betting on a horse named Don’t Despair at the racetrack. The parishioners, which included about 50 medical workers, chuckled at the climax.
Bonnard quickly became serious, however, drawing parallels between the COVID-19 pandemic and two masses dedicated to people with leprosy who had to isolate themselves because they were unclean.
During a pandemic, it was very tempting to despair. We pray fervently for all of our sick brothers and sisters, as well as the doctors, nurses and other medical staff who care for the sick. Health professionals take great risks to help the sick and suffering. This year stands out as a landmark year that has surpassed all other medical professionals on the front lines. “They do it because they care,” Bonnard said.
Bonnard said that Jesus does not want anyone to despair or remain isolated, despite their status.
He said that Jesus wants us to touch the untouchables, love the unloved, and forgive the unforgivable. Health workers were asked to stand on their benches for applause and recognition. Dina Ford from Poland, Director of Missions for Mercy Health, said: I work for Mercy Health, so I am very grateful. We talk about hope all the time. We thank the diocese for the recognition, especially over the past year.
We all needed this blessing that he gave us for what we faced. It was nice that all the candles burned even when the electricity went out. What would we do if we didn’t have doctors and nurses? said pathologist Maureen Fogarty of Youngstown.
Dr John Popovets and Alberta Popovets of Boardman said it had been a challenging year. John said that in 41 years of work in medicine, he has never seen such a year. It is very important to get together and understand how much everyone has worked and made sacrifices. People have invested so much time and energy during the pandemic, said Alberta.
Dr. James Kravek, chief clinical director of Mercy Health of Youngstown, said the fact that the diocese continues to hold this Mass every year shows how much care it takes for many of the healthcare professionals in the community.
This year is even more important than ever given the fact that healthcare professionals are working harder and caring for more and more patients. It has been a difficult year and many of the heroes are great at working for patients and caring for those in their communities. It is wonderful that the diocese celebrates them at this special mass, said Kravets.
Kravets said he attended White Mass for many years, including while attending medical school. He said it was reassuring that many people were receiving vaccines, as well as continue to distance themselves from society and wear masks.
I hope that this year we will be able to return to normal life, said Kravets. He is a member of St. Christina’s parish in Youngstown and was there with his wife, Dr. Cynthia Kravek, who was conducting the readings, and their four children.
David Schmidt, director of the Diocesan Office for the Protection of Life, Marriage and Family Life, said the reception usually takes place in the parish hall after Mass, but was canceled due to the pandemic.
In this way, the diocese honors health professionals and celebrates their work. According to Schmidt, any healthcare worker needs additional blessing for the work they have done and for the challenges they faced in the past year.
He said that usually many retired healthcare workers come to Mass, but they are unable to do so due to the pandemic. They would have watched the service live, but a power outage shortly before Massa changed that.