Bishop gets COVID vaccine with the faithful

Feb 17, 2021
Bishop John Oonan receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Poinciana, Feb. 15. Emergency Response Manager for Osceola County, Bill Litton, behind) called pastor, Father Emmanuel Akalue (right) to coordinate the effort to provide 600 vaccines to parishioners and the community. (GLENDA MEEKINS)

POINCIANA | “Caring for each other during the pandemic is Christ’s call to us,” Bishop John Noonan said Feb. 15 as he received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at St. Rose of Lima Parish. “I am grateful to the nurses, physicians, law enforcement, volunteers, and Father Emmanuel (Akalue) and the staff of St. Rose of Lima for their compassionate care for us. We bear God’s Word with great joy and happiness of our heart.”

Father Emmanuel Akalue, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Poinciana was filled with gratitude when Bill Litton, Emergency Management Director for Osceola County, approached him to see if he was interested in being a host site for the COVID-19 vaccine. The parish and county already collaborate to help those in need through St. Rose of Lima’s Food Pantry.

On January 18, 2021, parishioners were able to receive their first vaccine. The second vaccine was distributed Feb. 15. Bishop Noonan and Chancellor, Carol Brinati were among those receiving their second dose. Vouchers were issued to approximately 480 parishioners who then came on the designated days.

“The pastor said, “It was an opportunity for us. The majority of those here (pointing to the line) are parishioners.” He noted it was not just a duty to take care of one’s neighbor, but “a Christian privilege.” He added, “It’s a great opportunity that helps us eventually return to normal.” However, he assured social distancing and masks will still be required to keep everyone safe.

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, February 17, 2021