Fatherly Love

By: Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP
Salesian Cooperator

2020 is a year not like any year that we have experienced. The pandemic has changed many people’s lives; some lost grandparents, parents, siblings, friends and co-workers. Working in a hospital, I witnessed in March 2020 some “crazy” decisions some fathers had to make. As no one knew how contagious this COVID 19 virus was, many fathers of children with complex medical condition called me about how to protect their children. Like, many of you, we read the CDC guidelines and digested information from the internet, true and untrue. Vivid in my mind were two cases where fathers had small business of their own. While the children with medical issues could stay home and isolate themselves from exposing to possible infection, both fathers had to run their small business and could not remove themselves from the public. A complete lockdown was not an option. These two fathers decided to camp out in their business warehouse so that they would not bring the germs back to their home. Not knowing how long this pandemic could last, this seemed like a good option. However, when the virus season lingered on for months, this isolation was not bearable and manageable. Two months later, both began to modify their isolation technique by returning home; they made sure that they not only followed the CDC guidelines but to do all the disinfection procedures like changing their clothes at the entrance of their home, take a shower before touching the household items and if all possible, keep social distance from the children with a medical condition. As we can see, the love of their children is unconditional. There is no such thing as “too much trouble” to keep the kids safe.

Yes, we can choose our friends, but not families. We know we feel totally obligated because we are family and we have no choice. In the name of safety, all fathers would do their best to protect their kids. But what if you are not biologically related? Would you go such distance to take care of others? The answer is “yes”. Since we have limited social contacts, I could only tell you stories from our community – St. Joseph Salesian Youth Renewal Center.

Throughout the pandemic in 2020 before vaccination is possible, Fr. Paul Chuong  Nguyen had to make visits to the sick and dying when hospitals would not allow visitors. Some were parishioners who were dying in the hospital. Totally isolated from families, they were yawning to do the confession and receive their last rite. My first reaction to such requests was: “Can Fr. Paul hear the confession over the phone, or do it virtually?” From a clinical perspective, this seemed logically. But Fr. Paul would not hear such a thing.

With a father’s heart, Fr. Paul begged the hospital staff to put him on PPE and allowed him to serve his brothers and sisters. For those of us who were witnessing his bravery, we could only pray that he did not catch the virus while serving. He served many, many in the hospital and in the home.

And with a father’s heart, he opened up the Fatima Grotto at St. Joseph and performed funeral services. He recalled doing more funeral services (some were Covid victims) in 2020 than all of the years combined as a priest. When he was asked why he was determined to provide funeral service during the pandemic, the answer was very simple: “I want to provide closure, comfort and dignity to our brothers and sisters.” Indeed, at the peak of the pandemic, there were two to three funeral services every week at St. Joseph.  Fr. Paul performed all the necessary logistics of funeral services with strict health guidelines.   

In this Year of St. Joseph, proclaimed by Pope Francis, our Salesian confreres definitely performed their duty with a father’s heart. Fr. Paul composed this lovely tender chapter of his life in 2020, and I am convinced when our cities open up, we will hear more from the Salesians of their own stories.

If I have a chance to text Pope Francis, I will send #The Salesians got it.

Your homework from the Care Ministry this week: What is your Covid story?

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