By May Lee Johnson
SOUTH BEND — As Martha Velazquez waited patiently in the lobby of Sister Maura Brannick Health Center to be seen, someone caught her eye.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend made his way over to Velazquez and her grandson, Angel. Velazquez told Bishop Rhoades in Spanish about her husband, who like herself, is a patient at the center on Chapin Street in South Bend.
The bishop knelt down with her and along with Al Gutierrez, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center president and CEO, listened to her and spoke to her with great concern.
“She (Velazquez) was telling us that her husband has had some really bad health problems,” said Bishop Rhoades. “He’s a diabetic but he’s doing much better since they have been coming to the clinic, and she is very grateful for this place.”
“Yo sabia que era alguien especial (I knew he was someone special),” Velazquez said.
Last week Bishop Rhoades visited those in need at the Sister Maura Brannick Health Center.
The bishop began his visit with a tour of the clinic. He also visited with the staff of the clinic as well as the executives of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center. He shook hands and greeted people who came to the clinic for help.
“This is faith in action,” said Bishop Rhoades. “This clinic not only serves the poor, (the clinic) brings Christ to them. That is what we are all called to do. I’m so thrilled to be here.”
Those who work at the clinic said they were touched by the visit, too.
“It was good to have the bishop come to visit us,” said Elma Bautista, a licensed practical nurse at the clinic. “We all hope he sees the family-like atmosphere we have around here. The people come to us because they know we are one of them. We enjoy serving them, and it was nice to have the bishop visit and see what we do every day.”
Gutierrez agreed, saying, “Growing up I got all my health care at a clinic like this. That’s why it is so important that we be clear about our faith-based program, because our ministry is about caring and healing.”
Those who depend on the service said they, too, were glad to meet Bishop Rhoades.
“I’m Catholic, and it’s so nice to see he wants to come out and meet the people,” said Alicia Dealba of South Bend. “I mean, if it wasn’t for the clinic, a lot of us would be sicker then we are. Thank you bishop. Your coming shows how much you care.”
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