By BlackFriars Staff
On March 7, four Dominican friars who serve hospitals and a nursing home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side entered quarantine for the safety of those in their care. Fr. Jonah Pollock, O.P., Fr. John Devaney, O.P., and Fr. David Adiletta, O.P., continue to minister to the sick in hospitals by day while residing in isolation from one another and the general public in St. Catherine’s Priory by night. Fr. Hugh Vincent Dyer, O.P., took up residence in the Catholic nursing home where he serves as chaplain.
“We took this decision ahead of the state or the city. We were ahead of the curve on realizing just how vulnerable folks in the nursing home are,” says Fr. Hugh Vincent, who celebrates Mass in the home’s chapel and offers a series of talks on art and literature for the residents over closed-circuit television.
Despite the pandemic and the chronic conditions of those in the nursing home, Fr. Hugh Vincent seeks to provide a joyful and culturally broad witness. “We still live a life here that takes delight in good things—in the liturgy and also in literature and history and art,” he says.
According to Fr. Hugh Vincent, the residents are able to draw strength from past experiences of hardship. “I had people tell me how they had survived polio. A number of people spoke of the Depression, or the War, or 9/11, or Hurricane Sandy. I’ve asked them to pray for their grandchildren and for younger people who have never weathered a serious crisis—they are the ones who have difficulty facing something that changes life in significant ways.”
As lockdown measures lessen, Fr. Hugh Vincent plans to maintain the programs put in place during the pandemic. “I would continue to animate the culture of the place with the riches of our tradition. People have come to appreciate and expect these things.”