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Parishes answer Excela's call for rosaries to comfort Westmoreland patients

| Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
A selection of the 1500 rosaries collected for patients of Excela Health hospitals, sit intheir marketing department office, in Hempfield Township, on Friday, Feb.17, 2017. The rosaries will be given out to hospital patients that left theirs at home, or that would like one to help with their hospital stay.

For Roman Catholic patients who go to the emergency room or are admitted to the hospital, a rosary can be just what the doctor ordered.

Excela Health, the hospital system in Westmoreland County, has made the distribution of rosaries part of its care for Catholic patients but recently found its supply running low.

Hospital spokeswoman Robin Jennings said the rosary dearth was, in part, because of the rise in visits to the emergency department during flu season. With more Catholic patients come more requests for rosaries, she said.

“It is the practice of our nursing staff to ask if there's something we can do to provide additional comfort care while they're waiting,” Jennings said. “For Catholic folks, rosary beads help to facilitate that and have proven to be very comforting.”

So Excela Health reached out to several local Catholic parishes and asked if they could help replenish the supply. Among those responding after bulletin announcements were Immaculate Conception Parish in Irwin, Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg and St. Bruno Parish in South Greensburg.

Immaculate Conception had recently received 350 rosaries and decided to donate them to the hospital.

“People came forward quite unexpectedly, and (the Rev. John Moineau) had a way to pass them along. The timing was wonderful from his perspective,” Jennings said.

In total, the health care system received 1,200 rosaries for its hospitals in Greensburg, Mt. Pleasant and Latrobe.

“We thought it was a very cool thing that the community responded,” Jennings said. “It's not your standard-issue hospital item.”

The rosary is a meditative form of Catholic prayer that relies on a string of beads, each of which has a different meaning. In addition to saying the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed and the Hail Mary, Catholics use the rosary to mediate on four sets of mysteries — Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, Luminous — that center on the life of Christ.

The rosary usually is divided into five decades, or sets, of 10 beads.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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