Hope for the New Year

January 11, 2021

By Sister Mary Haddad, president and CEO, Catholic Health Association

Without a doubt, 2020 will be remembered as the year of COVID-19, the greatest public health crisis in our lifetime. Hopefully, as we look back on the year and grieve the loss of so many, we will begin to have a more profound understanding that regardless of our racial or ethnic heritage, our religious or political beliefs, or our socioeconomic status, we all are bound together in a shared experience. COVID-19, if nothing else, has served as a vivid reminder that our lives are profoundly connected and that we are interdependent with all of creation.

Photo by Sister Victoria Incrivaglia

As Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, we are acutely aware of how the coronavirus has exposed the many injustices and inequities that for far too long have plagued our countries. We know that COVID-19 has disproportionately afflicted people of color, migrants, those who are homeless and the frail elderly. As a religious community, we have raised our voices for the vulnerable and called for solidarity and equity in our response to this global pandemic.

At Catholic Health Association (CHA), I am proud that we have been at the forefront of the national discussion about the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. In July, 2020, we issued our Vaccine Equity and Catholic Principles for the Common Good guidelines.  The core principles outlined in the document were that vaccines should be safe and ethically tested, scientifically effective, respect human dignity and distributed with priority to those most at risk. After the release of the guidelines, CHA was asked to provide input to the National Academy of Sciences’ COVID-19 Distribution Framework, which adopted many of our core principles. As the vaccine is being rolled out, we are seeing priority being given to frontline caregivers and the medically vulnerable, such as residents of nursing homes. We will continue to advocate for distributive justice in the weeks and months ahead.

In my role at CHA, I have been in daily contact with Catholic healthcare leaders from across the country and heard from them about the many challenges they and their colleagues have faced caring for COVID patients. I have also heard inspiring stories about the many sacrifices that caregivers are making for their patients and loved ones. The response to the pandemic by those of us serving in Catholic health care and social services has only reaffirmed our commitment to the ethical and equitable treatment of all people as we work to bring Christ’s healing to our broken world.

It is for this reason that I start 2021 with a sense of hope. The history of our religious community is replete with stories of commitment and sacrifice as compassionate care was indiscriminately provided during times of great need. Today, we continue that same mission to serve the needs of poor and vulnerable persons at the margins of society. We believe that each life is sacred, that all share in the common good and that we have a responsibility to ensure a preferential option for those who are economically poor and marginalized. As we emerge from this global health crisis, we have a unique opportunity to recommit our lives to these Gospel values.

While we have risen to the call to care for the least among us during this past year, we have so much more to do in 2021. May this new year fill our world with mercy and compassion as we strive for a just transformation of all our communities.

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  1. Richard Mary

    Dear One,
    Thank you for an inspiring summary of what has been, humbling examples of what is happening and comforting words of hope and resiliency for future actions in this healthcare crisis. Your leadership with all of CHA is true gift to all of us.

  2. Doris Ann Gottemoeller

    Thank you for your compassionate and wise leadership, Mary.

  3. Sarah Brown

    Thank you so much for this beautiful, truthful, hopeful encouragement.

  4. Marilynn Wittenauer

    It’s voices like yours and actions like CHA‘s that will make 2021 a more just and peaceful year for all.

  5. Mary Daly RSM

    Thank you, Mary, for continuing the Mercy tradition of response to need, for being an active presence in providing aid to those in nees.

  6. Agnes Brueggen

    Mary, thank you for your excellent, hopeful reflection! I am grateful for CHA’s leadership in the challenging issue of vaccine distribution — and your gifts in facilitating that.

  7. Mary Anne Poeschl, RSM

    Thanks Mary for being a good leader. Here in mid-MS the death in the Choctaw and Hispanic communities were high as well as the African-Americans. All are our sisters and brothers. Keep well

  8. Janet Rozzano

    Mary, I, too, appreciate all that you and CHA have done and continue to do in working for justice in distribution of the vaccine. Thanks for your example and be assured of my prayer and support.

  9. Mary Sheehan

    What resiliency it takes to lead an organization such as CHA during this crisis for health care. The ethical issues described weigh a ton.
    Thank you for carrying this weight so well.

  10. Monica Marie Knipfer, RSM

    I concur with Richard Mary’s comment. You speak of reality, but without fear for our future.

    May WISDOM guide you, and HOPE sustain you.” (Author unknown)

  11. Marilyn Lacey rsm

    Feeling grateful to have someone as competent and compassionate as YOU at the helm. Thank you.

  12. Maureen Mulcrone

    Thanks, Mary, for representing, for all of us, the best of the Catholic social Justice tradition on a national level.

  13. Mary Lou Averbeck

    Thank you, Mary, for this message and for the leadership of CHA, and your own leadership. For years CHA has laid the groundwork and stimulated creative healthcare service for all our human family.
    We hope together.

  14. Lucille Brislin

    🙏🏽 🙏🏽 🌈 🌈 🌍

  15. Shirley Murphy

    Thank you, Mary, for your leadership and encouraging summary of the work and and gift of CHA. Be assured of continued prayerful support.

  16. Judy Carron, RSM

    Dear Mary, I am so grateful for who you are and for your Leadership for many years and especially with CHA. Our world today needs more voices like yours to believe in a future of Hope and Peace. May we as Sisters of Mercy continue to respond with a similar message.

  17. Fran Repka

    Mary, thank you for your servant leadership in these challenging times where justice, compassion, and mercy are so needed. Thank you also for leading and being deeply involved in vaccine equity. Hope springs eternal through your leadership in these ethical matters. My deepest gratitude.

  18. Brett Moorehouse

    Thank you for being on the forefront of the most important health care issue. Congress and the states must set aside funds to address health care disparities.

  19. anna

    hope we get rid of covid this year

  20. jenny summers

    i hope same for all a happy and healthy new year

  21. carol summers

    i wish everyone have a great year ahead and fight against the virus

  22. Rachelle Harper

    Mary, I am v proud to be a Sister of Mercy in the description you give of our mission. thank you for taking on leadership in a time like ours. Thank you for putting words to the wordless feelings and responses within so many of us.