1 October 2012
A volunteer jokes with a patient during a holiday party at St. Louis Hospital. (photo: Debbie Hill)
Judith Sudilovsky is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem, covering events in the region for publishers including Catholic News Services and Ecumenical News International. We asked Ms. Sudilovsky to share her thoughts on writing for the September 2012 issue of ONE, and she had this to say:
It has been five years since last I stepped through the doors of the St. Louis Hospital, near the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. But whenever I pass by the hospital doors on my way to one place or another, I recall my experience with this extraordinary place, which provides a haven for end-of-life care patients and their families; it was where my good friend Judy spent her last few months.
I learned about St. Louis Hospital when Judy, a bright, spunky, redheaded New York-born Jew, was hospitalized there toward the end of her battle with a brain tumor. When she wanted to continue working, the staff arranged for an internet connection to be set up in her room. When she missed seeing her dog, they arranged for me to be able to take her to visit him — today the hospital is one of the advanced facilities that allow therapy animals to come to the hospital and visit with the patients who enjoy spending time with them.
A year after Judy finally succumbed to the disease, a group of her friends took up a donation for this hospice and chronic care hospital, which has been run on a shoe-string budget by the congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition order since 1880.
When she received the checks that I had mailed to her, hospital director Sister Monika Dullmann invited me to come for a modest memorial ceremony she organized together with a few members of the staff who had been especially close to Judy. I was struck by the fact that even a year after her death, the staff that has accompanied so many people at the end of their lives, still sharply recalled Judy’s special optimistic spirit and her lovely sense of humor.
As we lit a memorial candle for Judy that day, I was humbled by the genuine affection I felt in the room for my friend, who had spent only a few short months there. I realized that for them Judy, like all the other countless patients who have passed through this place over the years, remained after her death a unique individual whose life had had worth and significance even in her dying moment.
Since then the hospital has occupied a special place in my heart.
I feel it is only fair to make a public disclaimer about my undeniable bias for the St. Louis Hospital and the staff who do the hardest work with love and respect. These dedicated people — Christians, Muslims and Jews, Palestinians, Israelis and foreign volunteers — who so lovingly cared for Judy, continue caring every day for all their 50 patients in the same fashion, regardless of their national origin, religion or financial status. This article is their story.
1 October 2012
Tags: Jerusalem Unity Health Care Multiculturalism
Nikolay Vakulin and Melkonian Haykaz exercise in the yard of the shelter for elders run by Caritas Austria. In a 2007 Caritas Armenia survey, 76 percent of elderly respondents and 60 percent of other respondents considered adequate medical services to be unavailable in northern Armenia. (photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
Poverty and unemployment rates hover around 40 percent in northern Armenia. The only hospital in the vicinity is the Catholic-run Tiramayr Narek Hospital in Ashotzk. Thanks to support form CNEWA and Caritas Italy, the hospital serves some 30,000 patients from as far away as Gyumri (62 miles south) and Vardenis (124 miles southeast) and conducts about 1,800 complicated surgeries per year. In the March 2009 issue of ONE, Gayane Abrahamyan discusses this institution:
Razmik Minasian, his face tanned from laboring in the sun, swiftly paces up and down a white sterile hallway in Tiramayr Narek Hospital in Armenia’s northernmost town of Ashotzk. Again and again, he looks worriedly at the closed door from where the cry of his 4-month-old son can be heard.
“Had we managed to get here earlier, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said as he approached his wife who sat nervously beside the door.
The Minasians live in Samtskhe-Javakheti, a predominantly Armenian region in southern Georgia near Armenia’s northern border. The couple made the three-hour journey to Tiramayr Narek because the infant’s temperature had reached a dangerous 104 degrees and the Catholic-run facility is the only one in the vicinity that offers quality care at little or no cost.
Read more in Armenian Winter.
1 October 2012
Tags: CNEWA Armenia Health Care Caring for the Elderly Caritas
In this November 2007 photo, Christians, including Catholic clergy and women religious, participate in a demonstration in New Delhi demanding an end to discrimination against dalit, or low-caste, Christians in India. (photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)
‘Untouchable’ no more (Al Jazeera) Despite a constitutional ban on India’s caste system in 1950, activists say discrimination based on social hierarchy continues. Activists are recording the stories of those deemed “untouchable” in the hopes of changing hearts and minds. Will the project work, or is caste no longer a problem?
Three days of prayer and fasting before selecting Coptic pope (OCP News Service) The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria has announced fasting and prayer for three days in preparation for the selection of the new pope of Alexandria and patriarch the Holy See of St. Mark. The period will begin Monday, 1 October, and run through Wednesday, 3 October 2012.
Georgian Orthodox Church joins Muslim board in decrying anti-Islamic film (Interfax) The Georgian Orthodox Church and the Georgian office of the South Caucasus Muslim Board consider “unacceptable the public demonstration of the film Innocence of Muslims, which has insulted millions of people and caused justifiable outrage and protest worldwide.”
Iraq sees deadliest month in over two years (Al Jazeera) September was the deadliest month in Iraq in more than two years, with 365 people killed in violence that included waves of nationwide attacks, official figures show. It was the highest monthly toll given by the government since August 2010, when figures showed 426 people killed and 838 wounded in attacks.
Aleppo fighting “destroying cultural heritage” (Lebanon Daily Star) UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said that, as a signatory to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, Syria was obliged to safeguard its heritage from the ravages of war. “The human suffering caused by this situation is already extreme,” she said in a statement. “That the fighting is now destroying cultural heritage that bears witness to the country’s millenary history — valued and admired the world over — makes it even more tragic.”
Tags: India Iraq Syrian Civil War Coptic Orthodox Church Aleppo