By Barb Arland-Fye
In the kitchen of Mercy Medical Center-Clinton’s north campus, Bishop Martin Amos held the hands of nutrition services worker Annette Armour in his own. He prayed: “May the Lord bless your hands, that they might be a source of blessing and healing for others.”
Armour’s hands were among many pairs of hands Bishop Amos held and blessed the morning of Sept. 20 as he walked the hallways of Mercy’s two campuses in Clinton. Doctors, nurses, therapists, lab technicians, nutrition service workers and others extended their hands to the bishop and appeared deeply touched to receive his blessing.
“Through the work of our Mission Council, we have made an attempt for several years to recognize our long heritage and our faith as a Catholic, non-profit hospital,” said President and CEO Sean Williams. “The blessing of the hands is traditionally held around Mercy Day, which recognizes Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy. We celebrate the day by recognizing the important work that we do to serve others.”
Williams invited Bishop Amos to participate in the tradition this year because the bishop “is recognized as the formal connection to the Catholic Church and the Diocese of Davenport.”
The morning began with the Ritual for the Blessing of Healthcare Workers at Mercy-Clinton’s south campus. (The ritual was repeated at the north campus.) “We gather today as a caring community engaged in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to reflect upon the significance of our work,” Bishop Amos began the prayer service. “The great American journalist Studs Terkel, in his book, ‘Working,’ interviewed a woman who observed that ‘most people work in jobs too small for their spirits.’ If there is any place that this should not be the case, it is with those of us privileged in myriad ways to care for the most weak and vulnerable of our sisters and brothers.”
Bishop Amos invited healthcare workers at the prayer service to listen to a reading from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians that spoke of different forms of service and of different gifts bestowed on individuals by the Holy Spirit.
Prayers of petition reflected on some aspect of healthcare workers’ important service to others. They responded to each petition with: “May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Prosper the work of our hands!”
After each prayer service, Bishop Amos made the rounds of hallways on the south and north campuses, including the nursing homes at each campus. Healthcare workers thanked him for making time to bless them.
“Looking down at all the different hands and then looking up into their faces after blessing them was very moving. The Lord truly does bless and heal through them, no matter what their job at Mercy is,” Bishop Amos said.
“As a Catholic hospital, what we do here at Mercy is an extension of the healing ministry of the Church. Literally and symbolically, for Bishop Amos to confer his blessing on the work that we do and to offer a blessing of our hands as we serve and care for others, was greatly appreciated by many and cannot be measured,” Williams said.