A Catholic priest who is assisting with hospital ministry amid the Covid-19 pandemic has expressed his hope that “dawn is coming” to defeat the darkness, as he stressed the importance of hope and love in response to the virus.
Fr Frankie Mulgrew, parish priest of St James and All Souls in Salford and Catholic priest chaplain at Salford University, stressed the importance of love, especially for those suffering with Covid-19 and their families.
“The greatest message we can give anybody is the message that they’re loved, and to know they’re not alone,” Fr Mulgrew said in a recent interview with The Art of Dying Well. “They’re loved enough that someone wants to be sat next to them in this difficulty, wants to stand with them on this front line…I think that’s really key.”
Commenting on the physical barriers he currently has to contend with, Fr Mulgrew, who has been brought in to help and support Fr Mark Paver who is the lead chaplain at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said chaplains have personal protective equipment (PPE) and take the lead from the hospital on whether they can go into wards to minister.
“We’ve got to have the gear on, and even with personal equipment – there’s still the eyes, hope- fully you can still display a message of eyes of love,” he said, though admitted that it is “tricky” and these are particularly “difficult circumstances”.
“It’s letting people know that they’re not alone really,” he explained. “And from the priest’s perspective; it’s that God never leaves them. I think that’s the key thing, that He never leaves them; and that he always joins them in their pain.”
Fr Mulgrew said he recently prayed over the phone with a woman who was very ill and later died. Following her death, the woman’s daughter got in touch to tell him the prayer had really helped her mother.
“I was a bit taken aback thinking it was just a prayer over the phone, as I’m used to going in and seeing them, and giving them the Last Rites, but she said that it had made such an impact and difference, and I think that’s it in these times.
“I know we’re constricted, confined – but I don’t think God’s love is ever confined, or ever constricted. And so I think, yes, the power of God’s love is out there. And I think it’s reaching people, even indeed despite the difficult situations.”
He said it was “a great honour” to be able to help and support as a chaplain, but insisted: “The real heroes are the doctors and nurses.
“What I am holding onto is that basically, the dawn comes just after the darkest part of the night. The dawn is coming. No night lasts forever before the sun rises. And when it rises, boy, does it shine brightly.”
Picture: Fr Frankie Mulgrew.