Monday, January 10, 2011
The Face of Hepatitis in America?
At yesterday's 9 am Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes, one of the priests in residence, Fr. Cletus Nwaogwugwu, a Nigerian priest who serves as hospital chaplain at area hospitals, described in his sermon the chain of events last week that led to him being mistakenly identified as "the face of hepatitis in America."
He explained that last Monday when news of the hepatitis contamination scare broke, he was approached by the media for permission to film his 8 pm Mass in the Our Lady of Lourdes School chapel. He refused permission so CBS News filmed part of the Mass through the glass windows on the chapel doors.
Fr. Cletus said he began receiving phone calls from friends asking him if he was sick. At that point he was confused by the flurry of attention over his health, though he finally realized, to his dismay, that he was suspected to be the HAV carrier because of his chance exposure on the CBS news video http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/ny-church-delivers-hepatitis-a-scare-12536232">here.
It goes without saying that an immediate and thorough investigation of this matter should be conducted at once so this conscientious and exemplary priest may be instantly absolved of any association with the HAV contamination scare.
In the previous blog posts, I describe how various news sources revealed that the HAV carrier was 1) a man, 2) a member of the clergy, and 3) was present at both of the fateful masses on Christmas Day. It has also been revealed that the HAV carrier combined the consecrated hosts into one ciborium after communion. (It should be noted that at Our Lady of Lourdes, this is the usual function of the celebrating priest in the post-communion rite.)
Upon learning of the mixing of the hosts, health officials expanded the original possibility of contamination to 5 more subsequent Masses the following day and a much larger range of people than was first supposed.
Several eyewitnesses have confirmed that the pastor, Msgr. James Lisante, celebrated both Masses on Christmas Day---a fact that was confirmed by Sean Dolan, the diocesan spokesman, who stated that Msgr. Lisante "was involved in the communion process" at both masses. Most fascinating of all, an associate pastor at the parish, Fr. Ed Seagriff, announced the Sunday before Christmas that Msgr. Lisante was ill at that time with "a stomach virus," which most observers will recognize is consistent with the symptoms of Hepatitis A.
For those able to connect the dots, there are enough questions here to raise some disturbing speculations. Because it was revealed by Mary Ellen Laurain, the spokeswoman for the Nassau County Department of Health that the carrier was a clergy member, the parish deserves in justice to know which one of the clergy serving their parish is the carrier in order to clear the other priests in the parish of any involvement in this unfortunate and disastrous incident.