Bishop wants ‘prayer warriors’ for COVID-19 frontliners as doctor who asked for blessing dies

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2020 06:00 PM | Updated as of Mar 22 2020 07:06 PM

MANILA - A Catholic bishop called for prayers for COVID-19 frontliners after another Filipino doctor died due to the disease as efforts to arrest its spread continue in the Philippines and the rest of the world.

In a social media post on Sunday, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David shared that Dr. Greg Macasaet, an anesthesiologist and one of the frontliners in the country’s fight against COVID-19, passed away at 4 a.m.

Macasaet and his wife Dr. Evalyn, also an anesthesiologist, got infected by the virus as they attended to patients in the emergency room

Between the two, Dr. Greg was severely affected by the disease as his wife remains in isolation.

David, also the vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said he came to know of the couple’s story after a friend of their family send him a message as Dr. Greg was requesting that he be given Last Rites.

“What gave me greater pain as a bishop was that part in the message of the family’s friend that said, ‘Dr. Macasaet wants to receive the Last Rites but doctors won’t allow anyone go near him,” the bishop recounted.

The family’s friend instead asked for words of encouragement and then gave the doctor’s cellphone number.

“I immediately tried calling Dr. Greg’s phone, to no avail. Soon, the friend sent a follow up message saying that Dr. Greg could not reply to is cellphone anymore because he had to be intubated already,” David said.

That was when the prelate got in touch with the doctor’s wife. Though infected with the virus and in isolation, she continued monitoring her husband’s condition through her cellphone.

“She spoke like a regular doctor when I asked how her husband was doing, using medical terms I did not quite understand. She spoke the same way when I asked how she herself was doing,” the prelate said.

“When I said, ‘would you like me to bless the two of you? I understand that even priests are not allowed in the ICU. I can give you a pray over right now over the telephone.’ Without waiting for me to finish my sentence, she answered, “yes, yes, please do that, Father.”

As the blessing was concluded, the bishop said Dr. Evalyn responded with a loud “amen,” as she kept saying, “thank you, thank you, please continue to pray for him.”

Dr. Greg was only one of the frontliners who recently passed away due to the disease that they themselves are fighting.

On Saturday, the Philippine Heart Association announced the passing of their “young cardiologist” while fulfilling his duties as a doctor.

A DOCTOR’S LAST WORDS, A BISHOP’S CALL FOR PRAYERS

Before Dr. Greg passed away, he managed to send a message to his family and friends, sharing how he felt at the same time giving out wishes in case he would not make it.

“The turn of events is just no longer going in my favor. The feeling you get, aside from extreme pains all over, difficulty of breathing and as if all life is being sucked from your body,” the doctor said.

“They will be putting cutdown lines and central tubes on me anytime soon. If they intubate me and place me on ventilator, then the game is almost over.”

But Dr. Greg’s last words was about his son who has autism. He appealed to his family and friends to assist him, as well as his wife.

As the bishop enumerated names of other medical frontliners who got infected by the virus, he asked if those who are battling the disease are adequately protected from infection.

“I wonder if our doctors even have decent accommodations while attending to their patients and are unable to come home because of the lockdown, or because they are afraid to infect their own family members. If even our best doctors in well-equipped private hospitals are vulnerable, I wonder what it is like in the public hospitals,” David added.

The prelate then called on everyone, no matter which religion they belong, to become “prayer warriors” who are ceaselessly praying for frontliners.

“Would you kindly join our invisible web of prayer warriors who are at the frontline of another aspect of this fight against COVID-19 — namely the spiritual battle? No matter if you’re Muslim, or Buddhist, or Catholic, or Protestant, can you please join in praying fervently that God protect our frontliners who put their lives on the line to protect us from this devastating plague?” said the prelate.

As of 4 p.m. today, there are 380 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines while the death toll stands at 25.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police said wakes are among banned public gatherings in the country’s most populous island region of Luzon during the 1-month long lockdown.

Only the immediate family of the deceased and ministers or officiants are allowed to attend wakes based on guidelines provided by the government inter-agency task force leading the response to the pandemic.