One Friar finds Christians in Danger of Losing their Faith in the Hospital

Br Daniel Bowen, O. de M., a Mercedarian student, spent his summer assisting at Metro Hospital in Cleveland. Here is his experience of Hospital Chaplaincy:


Br Daniel and Fr Justin



We read in Sacred Scripture that if one member suffers in the Body of Christ, which is the Church, all the members suffer with that member (1 Cor 12:26). This is why all baptized Christians are called upon to share in the ministry of mutual charity by doing all one can to help the sick return to health, by showing love for the sick, and when possible, by celebrating the sacraments with them.  This past summer I was given the extra special opportunity of assisting in this ministry by being assigned to an apostolate at  Metrohealth Hospital  (Main Campus) in Cleveland, Ohio assisting Father Justin A. Freeman, O. de M. with his duties as the Catholic Chaplain. This was my first experience of ministry in a hospital setting.

I discovered that there is a great need today in the hospitals!  It is a place where, despite the best staff and facilities available (Metrohealth being one of the best), a person can still feel frightened being in an unfamiliar environment and with the condition of an unexpected injury, illness or disease.  It is in such a place where someone can be challenged by his or her own mortality. This can cause someone to look back over their life and perhaps question their future.  Oftentimes, it can be a moment that God permits to allow someone the opportunity to draw closer to Him. But, of course, since we are given freewill by God there is a choice to be made. Hence, it is here, in the hospital, where a Christian is in danger of losing his or her Christian faith.

As a Mercedarian religious, this spoke to my heart giving me the understanding of why Christ must be present in such a place.  Christ must be able to be present to His people both in word and deed, both in the person of His ministers and most importantly in His sacraments. Earlier this summer, in May 2011, I was officially instituted into the Ministry of Acolyte with my seminary classmates. Among the many blessings that this ministry bestows on one, is the awesome ability to bring Holy Communion to people.  This was the most important duty that I was able to perform at the Hospital: to bring our Eucharistic Lord, the Body Blood, Soul and Divinity to his people. I also made referrals for Father Freeman of those patients that were in need of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) and The Anointing of the Sick.

However, it was not all just what Father Freeman and I were able to give to the patients, staff, volunteers, friends and family members in way of the Sacraments, witness and encouragement. No, it was also what they all gave to me. In my encounters with everyone at Metrohealth I met Jesus Christ, Himself. Sacred Scripture records these words of our Blessed Lord: “I was sick and you visited me” (Mt. 25:36). Yes, Christ’s compassion toward the suffering and sick goes so deep that He identifies himself with them.  And in every patient, and in every encounter, I was blessed to meet, know, and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. I was there to be with and listen to our Lord in His concerns and sufferings and to witness the faith of our Lord on the cross.

Perhaps this gets at the heart of why our Lord commanded his disciples to “Heal the Sick” (Mat 10:8). Not just for their sake, but also for our own. We are all called to be in right relationship with God, our Father, and to be in right relationship to our brothers and sisters. One might call this right relationship love, and oh, how desperately this is needed today.  Yes, I learned much this summer. Yes, perhaps I helped a bit, but hopefully in the end, I pray, I loved all the more.

Brother Daniel Bowen, O. de M.

Shyness only a temporary obstacle in calling to the priesthood

Growing up in a small town in the 1980s in northeastern Pennsylvania, Joseph Eddy had a quiet upbringing. His earliest memories were of playing and laughing with friends in their large backyard, while his Mom made them lunch. Each Sunday Joseph, his two sisters and parents piled into the family car to go to Mass at their small Catholic parish. A small town life in a traditional Catholic family was the beginning of Fr. Joseph’s calling as a Mercedarian priest.

Fr. Joseph after celebrating Mass
Fr. Joseph after celebrating Mass

There was nothing remarkable about their family life, except that the family would pray the rosary every day if possible. “We were also told by my mom that we had to be involved in some aspect of the parish,” Fr. Joseph recalled, when he was about nine years old. One option was that of an altar server.

“Although it was not my first choice, my best friend was going to be an altar server, and didn’t want to serve alone. I decided to become one, too, even though I was fearful of being in front of the others.  Looking back, this was my first step to a greater service of God.”

Joseph would serve Mass on the way to school, and the monsignor of the parish would have him for breakfast. The priest would talk about sports and the New York Yankees. “I felt kind of special that I had a relationship with the older priest,” Fr. Joseph recalls.

While attending the local public school, the youngster found himself thinking about doing something to “really help people.” Others would often mention to him that they felt God might be calling him to be a priest. “I would daydream about this, but then realize that I was too shy to be such a public person,” Fr. Joseph recalled. Indeed, he was voted most shy in his class by his own peers.

Yet, he still wanted to help people, so he went to college to be a teacher. “While at college, I became restless,” Fr. Joseph recalled. “Something was not right in my life. Teaching was interesting, but I wanted something more.”

By the time he got to his first semester in college, at Marywood University, a Catholic college in Scranton, he felt called to the priesthood. Furthermore, a life with a religious order kept coming to his mind. He narrowed the selection down, looking for a group that had a devotion to the Blessed Mother, that was faithful to the Church, and that had devotion to the Eucharist. “In faith, I stepped forward, taking one small step at a time.”

“The Lord led me to an ancient Religious Order that was devoted to Mary, the Eucharist, and faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. Now as a Mercedarian priest, I am living my dream of serving people in the Church. I have found fulfillment as a religious priest in the Order of Mercy,” Fr. Joseph says.

Fr. Joseph Eddy was ordained in 2008. He now serves as vocation director, is master of postulants, and helps out at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Philadelphia for the Order, also known as the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, or Mercedarians. Fr. Joseph is stationed at the Order’s U.S. motherhouse there.

The Order’s website is The singing of the Salve can be heard on their popular YouTube video. Or visit the Facebook page of Fr-Joseph Thomas Eddy.