So it happened on Saturday night at church… our regular 5:00 gig. We are a contemporary ensemble of singers, guitars, keyboards, drums and cello although we were missing some of the key components. We had just sat down after the proclamation of the Gospel and were getting ready for the sermon – our priest, this weekend, was the associate, an intriguing gentleman from India… very spiritual and kind of oblivious to our culture but learning quickly.
As he began to preach, I noticed two of my friends, seated on the other side of the church, jump up and head for the back of the church. In a matter of moments, an usher appeared and headed down the aisle, as did another friend of mine who is an RN. Mary Beth got to the person who was in distress and I watched her take a pulse and quietly ask some questions.
The usher checked on the situation and headed to the church entrance again. He came back with a wheelchair but by now, another usher and another woman had approached the scene and were motioning for someone to call an ambulance.
I soon heard sirens and felt a bit relieved however Fr Mike had just finished his sermon and sat down for a moment of silence. (I have to admit, I didn’t hear much of it because he has such a thick accent that you REALLY have to pay attention when he preaches). Fr Mike did NOT at this point notice what was going on, the deacon, however was aware.
The deacon got up to lead the prayers of the faithful and now, I was beginning to feel very uncomfortable. I felt that Fr Mike should have been made aware of the situation and maybe gone down and anointed the person in distress. By this time, the whole back of the church knew what was going on because the police arrived – 3 strapping Cinnaminson lads in uniform.
We stood up to begin the Preparation rite with a song but I didn’t feel that I should have started. First of all, everyone was worrying over this person and not really preparing for the most sacred of moments in our celebration. Second of all, I really felt strongly that the person should have been anointed. I did begin the song but cut it short.
By now, the paramedics arrived with a gurney and Fr Mike finally realized what was going on, as did the whole church assembly. The person in distress protested the paramedics’ attempts but eventually agreed to be taken to the hospital. It turned out to be an elderly woman whose face was whiter than her hair by the time I saw her. The deacon’s wife was gesturing to her husband that one of them – the deacon or the priest – should say some prayers for the poor, sick woman.
Fr Mike didn’t stop. He didn’t go and anoint her. He began the prayers for consecration as the paramedics rolled her out of the church.
I was fit to be tied but trying not to be angry. I just felt so uncomfortable. No one would’ve cared if he had delayed the Mass for a few minutes to say some prayers for the woman. I said a lot of prayers for her starting from the moment I realized someone was ailing.
Later, I found out that she was severely dehydrated and anxious because her special needs son was in rehab after an operation that left him partially debilitated. This woman is the sole caregiver to her adult son who is impaired and she was stressing because no one would be able to help her son if she was in the hospital.
I haven’t heard anymore about her. I hope she’s ok.