As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change our daily work and ways of life, this special message draws on the heritage of CommonSpirit Health to give some context to the challenges we face.
A special message of hope
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change our daily work and ways of life, this special message draws on the heritage of CommonSpirit Health to give some context to the challenges we face. We hope that you can take just a few minutes of quiet time to read it and reflect, and that it will help you as we continue to do all we can, together, to support our patients, communities and each other.
Dear CommonSpirit Colleagues and Friends,
In the seventh century, Rome suffered from a plague. Pope Gregory the Great asked that the people of Rome proceed from St. Mary Major Basilica to St. Peter’s Basilica, led by the icon of Mary. The legend is that as the faithful approached St. Peter’s, Gregory saw above Hadrian’s tomb – also known as the Castel Sant’Angelo – the figure of an angel on fire. The people saw it as a sign that the plague had ceased, and peace was restored to the city.
Today, as a memorial to the event, visitors can see a statue of Michael the Archangel above Castel Sant’Angelo as they approach St. Peter’s. It is a sign of the enduring mercy of God in even the most difficult of times.
The historical legend of Gregory’s response to the plague has a real-life counterpart in the legacy of CommonSpirit Health. In 1832, Mother Catherine Spaulding and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth walked the streets of Bardstown and Louisville, Kentucky, volunteering to nurse victims of a cholera epidemic and care for the orphaned. When the epidemic subsided, the Sisters opened St. Vincent Orphanage and St. Joseph Infirmary, firsts among their institutions of social service and health care. Later, they became one of Catholic Health Initiatives’ founding congregations.
And in 1855, a ship carrying refugees from the Far East docked in San Francisco and the second cholera epidemic in five years took hold. Eight Sisters of Mercy, who had arrived less than a year before, nursed the city through the epidemic. They went on to establish health ministries across California, including the two founding congregations of Catholic Healthcare West, now Dignity Health.
Naturally, we do not have a pre-scientific mindset to illness and disease, and have responded to the current crisis with all necessary precautions. Our health care providers have the necessary processes in place to respond quickly and nimbly to a fast-changing situation.
We all know that the advantages of in-person interaction must pause for now. But the pandemic will not cease compassion, and our work stands as reassurance to all that the healing presence of God is in the world.
I would like to share this prayer, written especially for this time, with you. Please feel free to share it with others.
Prayer for CommonSpirit
God of healing, you have called us to serve those entrusted to our care. Fill us with the strength to persevere with patience and compassion in our efforts to bring healing in our midst, and help us to overcome all anxiety. Grant us the ability to treat each person with the same love you have for each one of us. May we experience your presence throughout our day as we call to mind that we are not alone, but you are with us. May we not rest in our efforts but labor tirelessly until we rest in you. Amen.