Photo: Photo Courtesy The Catholic Chaplains Corps
When members of The Woodlands-Conroe branch of the Catholic Chaplains Corps could no longer enter the local hospitals to support patients and staff due to the pandemic, they got to work on other ways they could help.
The Catholic Chaplains Corps is a program of the The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Bishop John Markovsky, of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, began the program to support the Texas Medical Center in 1967 to better serve the sacramental and spiritual needs of Catholic patients and families. The TMC was just too large for the priests to make visits to all patients.
A The Woodlands-Conroe branch was launched as a pilot program in February 2018 to provide support to those hospitalized in Montgomery County. The program is carried out in partnership with three Montgomery County Catholic churches including Sacred Heart, St. Anthony of Padua and Sts. Simon and Jude.
Pre-pandemic, trained volunteers with the Catholic Chaplains Corps were able to visit both Catholic and non-Catholic patients in the hospital, nursing home or in a home-bound situations. But COVID-19 halted the volunteers work inside the hospitals.
“They are hungry for ministry. They feel a grief because they were very active in these efforts,” said Nanette Coons, Lay Chaplain for Region One, Conroe and The Woodlands. “They had these intimate encounters with people in their hospitals rooms and nursing homes and now that’s gone.”
Coons said there are 66 trained pastoral visitors in this region who can serve the five Montgomery County hospitals that have approximately 1,600 beds.
She said the pastoral visitors wanted to know what they could do to help when they couldn’t physically enter the hospitals and nursing homes.
Two different ways of assistance emerged.
About six weeks to two months into the pandemic, Houston Methodist The Woodlands