Fr. Antonio Pérez Hernández continued to minister to the sick, even while he grappling with his own illness.
A priest from the Archdiocese of Tlanepantla, Mexico, has opened up about his time while hospitalized with COVID-19. Fr. Antonio Pérez Hernández told his story on a video on the archdiocesesan YouTube channel, where he explained that while harrowing, the ordeal brought him closer to his faith as he struggled to balance his recovery with performing his priestly ministry to other patients.
Catholic News Agency, which has translated quotes from the video with the help of their sister agency ACI Prensa, reports that Pérez shared a room with several other COVID-19 patients, whom he ministered to when his strength was with him. He said:
“When I was in that place, there came a time when I did feel like God could call me into his presence,” Pérez told ACI Prensa. “And that’s when you discover abandonment, the total abandonment of saying to the Lord: ‘Here I am, if you want to call me, I am willing; if you want to leave me, I am also willing. I only ask that you please give me the strength to give absolution and attend to my brothers who are suffering from the disease just like I am.’”
Father Hernández went on to explain that he heard confessions and granted absolution to those who asked for it, and he was present when several patients passed away. Through these dire conditions, however, he noted that the fearful atmosphere of the hospital distinctly changed to one of hope and peace, a pivot that he credits to prayer.
He said that throughout his stint in the hospital he “felt the loving presence of God.” Fr. Antonio ended with a call for the faithful to place themselves in God’s hands:
“There comes a time when you only have your hospital gown, you have nothing,” he said, but at that moment “you experience that abandonment of saying to the Lord: ‘Lord, I have you. What more do I want if I have you?’”