COVID-19: A pastor’s perspective: The Ripples Continue

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Father David BonnarThe ripples are beginning to be heard and seen with my own ears and eyes. They are not just grim numbers. No, with every statistic of affliction and death to this coronavirus pandemic, there are names with faces. These people are spouses, parents, grandparents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends.

It first became real when I received an email from a parishioner who, along with her husband, traveled back home from being abroad to the United States in February. On their flight home, they were surrounded by some people with a persistent and horrifying cough. Their fellow travelers were clearly sick. To be on the safe side, this couple self-quarantined and began to feel sick themselves. Eventually, the illness they had incurred hit them like a ton of bricks. They never felt so fatigued. Because they were so far along in their journey, they were never tested. They are convinced that they had the virus.

A few days later, I received another email from a parishioner whose in-law was hospitalized and on a ventilator. The last word was that this young man was responding. Thanks be to God!

On Sunday morning, I received a text from a friend who had just learned that her sister-in-law was hospitalized with a presumptive positive case. This woman had no major health issues. She was fully healthy. But now she was relegated to a ventilator. She wrote, “It is very bad. My brother is not allowed to go to the hospital and is quarantined.”

Imagine being a spouse who pledged to love the other in good times and bad and sickness and health but not being able to be present to hold their hand or whisper in their ear.

The ripples continue. Yesterday I received a text from another friend who asked for prayers as her nephew was exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. The great concern here is that he now has to be self-quarantined, however, he lives with his sister who has some underlying health issues.

Last evening there were even more ripples. My brother priests and I heard the sirens and saw the lights. The ambulance arrived across the street. From our own windows, we watched as the medics donned protective suits, gloves and masks and entered the building. They brought out an older gentleman who obviously was struggling. When will the ripples stop?

As I looked at that scene I saw not only three people, the medics and the ill man, but could also see their families who no doubt are left worrying and wondering about each of them every day. Indeed, there are so many names and faces to this tragic story.

The ripples are now becoming more like waves. Last evening in the county in which I live we were given a stay-at-home order by the governor. Needless to say, the authorities are doing everything possible to stop the ripples and end the waves. We all need to do our part as well knowing that God is in charge.

FATHER DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest, is a pastor of 15 years in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where he has served in numerous roles. Follow and like The Priest magazine on Facebook.

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