Several months ago, Fr. Jean Marc Marie André, C.S.C., a member of the Vicariate of France, was diagnosed with the coronavirus. He spent two months in the hospital, followed by several weeks in a nursing home, mostly in isolation as medical protocols prohibited in-person visits. He currently is recuperating with his local community.
Doctors consider Fr. André as a “COVID long-hauler,” a victim of the virus that still suffers symptoms long after the usual typical course of the illness. Not only has it been a long medical journey for Fr. André, but it also has been a faith journey as well.
Here Fr. André reflects a little on what his experience has been like:
When a positive Covid 19 test result visits a religious of Holy Cross in France, there are two possibilities of dealing with it: the first is to rebel and to complain, and the second is to welcome it humbly and joyfully and to carry the cross of sickness in the following of Christ. "It is no longer I who lives, but it is Christ who lives in me.”
The time I spent in the hospital, without any visitors other than the members of the medical staff, helped me to fully live this word that Christ said to Peter. “Amen, amen, I say to you: when you were young, you put on your belt yourself to go where you wanted; when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will put your belt on, to take you where you don’t want to go" (John 21:18).
In my acceptance of living almost two months cut off from the world, I remained in deep communion with the Communion of Saints, where I felt their help at all times in my daily life. Thanks to the help of our Brothers in heaven and those on earth united with me, I lived this time as a real time of grace, a time of renewal. So, every day, I began each morning in thanksgiving by offering the day before me and asking the Holy Spirit to help me to accept all the unforeseen events it held, such as additional medical examinations and the practically two months of hospitalization, after which I spent 20 days in a nursing home.
Each new day was punctuated by the offices of the Liturgy of the Hours, and then the Eucharist, but only when I regained my strength and was authorized to do so.
I have since returned to my community where I patiently continue my convalescence. I remain, however, very tired and breathless, which are characteristic signs of this disease, the ins and outs of which are still unknown. The doctors ask me every day to remain patient and cautious. As a result, I am unable to resume external ministry for several weeks, maybe even months. I manage each day by walking slowly to the chapel, where I concelebrate sitting.
Thank you all for continuing to carry me in your prayers for my full healing. Know that every day I rely on the intercession of Saint Brother André and our Blessed Founding Father.
“Here I am Lord, I come to do your will!” I know that everything contributes to the good of those who love God. May God grant our Congregation new, generous and joyful workers to work intensely in this great harvest.