Hospital chaplaincy in times of COVID

You doubted the presence of the Church in a University Hospital?
Thursday 03 September 2020 02:00
Sister Bérengère NOËL & Jehanne BOUSSARD
Actualité Eglise

In mid-March, the COVID-19 imposes health measures: for the medical department as well as for our "moral, religious or philosophical assistance" service, our function is incompatible with teleworking. During this crisis, companionship with the staff is essential. "Thank you for not abandoning us" they say many times.
Visits are forbidden, patients feel very lonely. Imagine Max (30 years old) diagnosed with advanced cancer: he needs emergency surgery. His state of health deteriorates for 7 weeks and he is alone with all his questions. We are only aware of his situation when his family is called back for the last hours of his life. Feeling helpless: how many people in the hospital are living such a situation?

This period pushes us to be creative in order to be close to everyone. We are subject to strict rules of hygiene and the question "Is this encounter worth my life?" arises for us. One day, Georges' family calls us: he is in intensive care on a respirator because of COVID. The doctors have reached their limit. We email the family a prayer and make an appointment: the next day at 2pm, everyone will pray at home and we will be in the hospital's prayer room. Georges will receive a candle and a message which will be read to him at that time. As for so many others, our main concern is to help his loved ones grieve, knowing that they will not see him again and that the funeral will be celebrated in privacy. In these extreme situations, the Holy Spirit blows to find "extreme" ways to reach the other.

Just like Léa suffering from generalised cancer. She arrives at night in her wedding dress at the emergency room. With Jean, they have always postponed their wedding, hoping that she would get better. On the eve of confinement, she has to be hospitalized. They have only one wish: to get married before she dies. In a few hours, with the help of a deacon friend, we organize a blessing of their union. It is a great moment: procession, bouquet of the bride, exchange of consents, wedding rings... until the aperitif with the family and the members of the service! Léa is in a plenitude and deep joy contrasting with her approaching end of life and which gives a lot of hope to all. One of the outstanding encounters!
Perhaps you had no idea of the presence of the Church in a University Hospital? As in all the hospitals of the diocese, Christ is thus at the heart of the human dramas of sickness, suffering and death, especially in this period of COVID.




Sr Bérengère NOËL

Catholic spiritual references

University Hospital Sart-Tilman, Liège