Maronite bishop says he learned a lot from his COVID-19 experience

Maronite Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of Brooklyn, N.Y., is seen at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops building in Washington Dec. 16, 2016. Bishop Mansour says he has learned a lot while recovering from the coronavirus. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

By Carol Zimmermann 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Bishop Gregory J. Mansour, who heads the Eparchy of St. Maron in Brooklyn, New York, is pretty sure he came down with symptoms of COVID-19 from helping a man who had fallen and was coughing on a Brooklyn street.

“I have no regrets whatsoever even while I was suffering,” he said on an April 29 segment of Current News, part of NET TV, the cable network of the Dioceses of Brooklyn.

The bishop, who is 64, and who has served in the Brooklyn Eparchy since 2004, said people were yelling at him to stay away from the coughing man who was later picked up by an ambulance.

When asked if he would still help in a similar situation now, he said he would, noting that the person was “really in bad shape and everyone was just standing around. I was not even thinking of anything; it was just natural instinct.”

A week later, in late March, the bishop said he developed symptoms of COVID-19 and was sick for a few weeks. In late April he said had a test that showed that he had had COVID but he now has the antibodies, giving him, as he put it: “something of a defense, so I can go forward now.”

Bishop Mansour said living with the virus gave him a “better sense of communion” with his fellow priests and with others. “We have so many people going through this, suffering and some deaths.”

The numbers of COVID patients and deaths have been high in New York. On May 1, the state’s health department reported 164,505 COVID-19 cases, with more than 13,000 deaths and 5,231 probable deaths. In Brooklyn, there have been 43,621 reported cases of COVID-19.

The bishop said his experience with the virus also taught him some spiritual lessons.

“When you’re by yourself, you really take the time to sincerely look at your relationship with God and your own behavior, your own thoughts and emotional life and to align it more closer to God’s will,” he told the Catholic news show.

He also said he was “very grateful to have gone through” the experience and particularly thankful to all those on the front line: first responders, doctors, nurses, retail workers and pharmacists for “laying down their lives for others.”

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