Bishop Leahy commends St. John’s staff for “consoling closeness” to patients at hour of need
Sunday 13 February 2022: Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has paid tribute to the staff of St. John’s Hospital for their “consoling closeness” to patients over many years and, in particular, during the COVID pandemic.
In his homily during a Mass at the hospital to mark World Day of Sick on Friday, Bishop Leahy, who is also Chairman of the board of St. John’s said that the neediest in Limerick have found relief in St. John’s since it was founded in 1780 and this continues today.
During the COVID pandemic, he said, there were many instances where the sick had to suffer in isolation and fear. “We can be grateful that in hospitals and care centres such as St. John’s, there were frontline staff capable of drawing close to those people, especially those approaching death,” he acknowledged.
Bishop Leahy said that the care given at St. John’s is not just medical care but is in the true definition of ‘care’ as it is about compassion and integrity as well. “When people become sick, they become fragile, fearful, their hearts become heavy and uncertainties increase. Sickness can raise deep questions such as the question of the meaning of one’s life. Above all, the sick can become isolated and feel isolated. That’s why it’s so important to remember the sick, pray for them but, above all, be close to them,” he said.
Addressing staff directly, he continued: “A hospital is a type of sanctuary, a sacred place where deep experiences are lived. In the face of illness, we become particularly vulnerable but also transparent to new insights into ourselves, our neighbours, our world, and our relationship with God. A healing beyond the treatment of our specific pathology can happen.
“It is good to recall this and recognise the dignity and privilege of healthcare work. Working in a hospital such as St. John’s isn’t just about doing a job. You are guardians of the flame of a healing charity that is also at work in the hearts of the sick who are listening, mysteriously, to the whispers of the voice of their conscience in the face of the challenges and limits of ill-health. There is an interior deep dialogue at work in those who are ill. I thank you in St. John’s for your consoling closeness to patients over many years.
“Founded over 240 years ago in 1780 by Lady Hartstonge and other benefactors as a Fever and Lock Hospital, this hospital has treated those suffering from epidemics during the Great Famine and cholera outbreaks in other moments of the nineteenth century and now more recently cared for people during the Covid-19 pandemic. The neediest in our city and county have found relief in St. John’s when there was little in the way of healthcare facilities available in Limerick.”