Wednesday, 20 April 2016
Health and Ministry
I apologise for the dearth of posts recently but I developed yet another infective exacerbation of my COPD for which my General Practitioner referred me to the local Consultant Respiratory Physician. Due to the frequent exacerbations and clubbing of the fingers (you can look that one up!) a CT of the chest was arranged. Thankfully no malignancy was detected but there is evidence of Bronchiectasis (look that one up too!). Culture & Sensitivity tests of sputum revealed two bacteria colonising the lungs, so I am to begin Azithromycin three times a week if my sputum is negative for AFB’s.
All in all, due to increasing breathlessness and coughing bouts during Holy Mass (and nothing to do with my coronary vents last years), being a vector for disease to the housebound who are already health-compromised, it was clear I was not well enough to continue in parish ministry and I have had to retire on health grounds. The hope is that being relieved of parish pressures will preserve what health I have (COPD is not a disease where recovery is possible; it follows a downward trend that at best can be slowed, but not reversed).
Leaving parish ministry has been a very hard decision to make; not being in direct parish ministry is not an easy thing with which to live. I became a priest to support the people of God in their crisis moments; provide them with a liturgy that was God-centred, and teaching that was faithful to the Magisterium. To have left this work for the people of God behind is a real bereavement for me. I struggled with the idea of a younger priest retiring from parish work as I have the belief that we should ‘die with our boots on’, but when you one is carrying in one’s respiratory system more than one bug which can be passed to the housebound and vulnerable, one becomes a threat to the health and welfare of those one is attempting to support, so my own desire to struggle on took second place.