MOST REV. DAVID J. BONNAR
Bishop of Youngstown
This is Bishop Bonnar’s September 8, 2022 message given at Mercy Health-St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital to remember the victims, caregivers, and survivors of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit: Justin Huyck.
T.S. Eliot once said, “We had the experience but missed the meaning. And approach to the meaning restores the experience in a different form.”
The pandemic has been an unprecedented experience stretching across the globe resulting in the loss of many lives and livelihoods. Who could have ever imagined that we would have such an experience filled with fear, uncertainty, loss, inconvenience, interruption, and challenge. Our lives changed in so many ways. But as the world stopped, there were certain areas of life that courageously kept doing what they do even risking their lives. Nowhere is that truer than in health care.
We gather today to not only remember that experience, which is ongoing in many ways, but we also pause to behold the meaning of it. So many lives were lost, and yet, so many heroes and heroines were born.
The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown has enjoyed a solid relationship with Catholic Healthcare in the Mahoning Valley. For decades we have been partners in mission bringing to life the Gospel passage we just heard from Matthew 25. Together we seek to bring Christ to others.
In my year and a half here in Youngstown as bishop I have been humbled by the actions of healthcare workers here at Mercy Health and throughout the Diocese of Youngstown who risked their own safety and well-being and put aside the anxiety and fear we all shared in those first harrowing months of the pandemic to selflessly, competently, and compassionately care for others.
The statue before us represents the sacrifices made by those in healthcare during an unprecedented and unusual time. When we see it, let us remember their sacrifices and courageous efforts and call upon Jesus, the Divine Healer, to bless those who continue his healing ministry in our place and time. Let us never forget the meaning of their work and ministry. Moreover, let us be grateful for them.
COVID-19 has caused much heartache and division in our lives. While we all had the experience, there is at times a disparity in the meaning of it. As we reflect upon the reality of this experience, let us turn to our Blessed Mother on this the Feast of the Nativity and seek her intercession.
Let us pray for unity and peace and healing in our world and country. And let us pray for all those who live with the aftermath of this scourge and are currently afflicted with it. Let us call upon Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Hope, to help us realize that what matters most is not the experience as much as how we live, grow, understand, and change from that experience.