The auxiliary bishop of Bombay talks about his days in intensive care. “Every time I breathed in, I would say in my mind 'Jesus in me' and when I exhaled 'and I in Him'. This made me aware of God’s presence in my life and around me.”
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Mgr Dominic Savio Fernandes, auxiliary bishop of Bombay, spoke to AsiaNews about his experience with COVID-19. Bishop Savio tested positive for the coronavirus and was admitted to Holy Family Hospital, Bandra, on 10 October. He was discharged today 26 October.
“The battle with COVID-19 is not an issue. The only difficulty is breathlessness. Although I was breathless, I was never on the ventilator. They gave me 2-3 litres of oxygen a day and I also underwent plasma treatment.
“The only difficulty is that people are afraid that we can communicate the virus to them. Hence, one has to be prepared for social ostracising. For some people, once you have the coronavirus, you could transmit it to others, no matter how long ago you contracted it.
“It reminds me of lepers in the Bible. Fortunately, we have the advantage of the digital world and the Internet and can communicate without any physical contact. I thank God for this experience.”
For Mgr Savio, this was also a spiritual experience. “I was in the intensive care unit (ICU) for eleven and a half days. Frankly, the whole time I was in the ICU, I was lying down and constantly praying the divine mercy rosary. It was a deep realisation for me that Jesus loves me so much and that through his death and resurrection he saves us.
“I was filled with gratitude to Jesus my Lord and God, and to God the Father with whom I share a very personal relationship. I realised that nothing matters in life except that we love God and everyone else, and forgive one another. I am totally at peace with myself because I know God is in me.
“There was another spiritual exercise that I did in the ICU. Every time I breathed in, I would say in my mind 'Jesus in me' and when I exhaled 'and I in Him'. This made me aware of God’s presence in my life and around me. It was as if I was floating in bed with God in me and all around me.
“This also gave me the confidence to surrender myself to Jesus and to accept His will for me, even death, if he so wills it. Our God is the creator of the whole universe and yet he cares for a tiny speck like me.
“Mass has always been the high point in my life. But it was not possible to celebrate Mass when I was in ICU, it was not possible there. The day I came into the ward, the first thing I did was celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
“At the Eucharist, that's where I feel the Vicar of Christ. It is also a constant reminder for me to reach out to the poor and those in need or anxious. Before contracting COVID-19, I had also celebrated a funeral. And I am willing to serve even now. I am not afraid of COVID-19 because God is there to take care of me. Only, I would not want to communicate it [the virus] to others.
“How long? I do not know. But if people need me, I will be there for them. I am also grateful to so many people who prayed for my healing. I truly experienced the tremendous love and concern of my family, friends, parishioners, priests, religious sisters, intercessory prayer groups, and well wishers. May God bless them all. I too have prayed for them every day.
“I pray for people every day, even when I was in the ICU, that God may keep them safe from the coronavirus. I also recited the Divine Chaplet every moment. I have been praying for the eradication of the coronavirus from the face of the earth. I am sure that God will heed our prayers.
“The Blessed Virgin Mary, my mother has always been by my side. I prayed the rosary but experienced her special care for me. She is always beside me and guides me along. I know that God has a plan for me. What is that? He will gradually let me know through Mary, my mother. He always does.
“My thanks go to the doctors, nurses and attendants who looked after me. My special thanks go to Sr Kripa from Holy Family Hospital who donated her plasma to me. I am very grateful to her, and to Sr (Dr) Beena, Sr Lucien and Cardinal Oswald Gracias for taking special care of me.”