A Message from Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM:
Each May, we honor those who have been called to care as nursing and hospital professionals. As in past years, National Nurses Week (May 6 – 12) and National Hospital Week (May 10 – 16) offer a chance to bring colleagues together to celebrate our vital work caring for others. This year, amidst the banners, balloons, pizzas and baked goods, the mood will be much more somber due to the unprecedented challenges we face in our facilities and in our personal lives, particularly the severe threat to our health and the health of our loved ones.
And while this year’s celebration of nurses and hospitals may be more subdued, it is still important to pause and recognize the amazing dedication and courage that our colleagues are demonstrating during this pandemic. The commitment to bringing health and healing to others has been at the heart of Catholic health care throughout our history and will bring us through this crisis stronger than ever.
During the past three centuries, the religious sisters who founded Catholic hospitals in the U.S. have ministered to untold numbers of men, women and children in this country. They, and the laypersons serving at their side, cared for soldiers in the Civil War and for patients afflicted by yellow fever, cholera, typhoid, the 1918 flu pandemic, and the AIDS epidemic. During these crises, our forebearers were steadfast in their commitment to caring for all persons, regardless of their status in society. The goal then, as it is today, was to meet the immediate health needs of all those seeking help, particularly persons who were poor and vulnerable.
This current crisis is another chapter in the rich story of Catholic health care. In this moment, we are providing compassionate care to all; we are raising a passionate voice for the ethical and moral principles of human dignity; we are advocating for equitable access to care; and we are promoting policies that advance the common good. These will always be the foundational principles of who we are as a people of faith.
As Pope Francis has told us, “Today, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others.”
During these two weeks, let’s take an opportunity to express our deep gratitude for one another, particularly those who are risking their own lives to care for others.
To our nurses and hospital colleagues: thank you again for being the true heroes in our midst. May God bless you and keep you and your families safe.