By Father Dr. Joachim Oforchukwu, CSSp
The leadership of Memorial Hospital, South Bend, extended an invitation to the Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, to visit and celebrate the Eucharist on Jan. 16. This was the bishop’s first official visit to the hospital, and he celebrated Mass in Memorial Interfaith Chapel.
Memorial Hospital has a strong Catholic presence, and the Mass was well-attended by Catholics and non-Catholics from across Beacon Health System. The chapel ordinarily contains 60 people, but there was so much interest and enthusiasm shown by the worshippers that capacity was exceeded.
During his homily, Bishop Rhoades expressed gratefulness for the invitation. He asked the staff and workers to continue to do their work selflessly. Their work is more than a job, he said — it is a vocation. He asked the congregants to emulate Jesus Christ, who out of love and compassion healed the sick.
Bishop Rhoades was joined in the celebration of the Eucharist by the Memorial Hospital chaplain, Father Dr. Joachim Oforchukwu, CSSp. Other clergy in attendance were Father Glenn Kohrman, Father Michael Mbonu, Father Eric Burgener and Deacon Jim Fitzpatrick. The choir received praise for a great job. It was St. Augustine who said that, “He who sings prays twice.” The music added a new color to the beautiful liturgy.
Following the Mass, Bishop Rhoades went to the Mother/Baby Unit to give a blessing. He also prayed with a cancer patient and anointed an ICU patient. After anointing him, the bishop prayed the prayers for the Commendation of the Dying, including the litany of saints. After he prayed the prayer, “Go forth, Christian soul, from this world… May you see your Redeemer face to face,” the patient took his last breath.
The bishop’s visit to Memorial Hospital was greatly enjoyed and appreciated, and brought healing to the community. The visit echoes the mandate given by Jesus to the Twelve Apostles, “And He sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:2).
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