Living Freely in Faith: The Liberating Effect of Easter, Passover and Ramadan During Pandemic

Scott Opperman, Director of Mission Integration, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s
Kathy Schell, Director of Mission Integration, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea

  • From Palm Sunday on April 5 through Easter Sunday on April 12, our Western Christian sisters and brothers will commemorate Jesus’ passion, death, and Resurrection: Liberation from sin and death.
  • From sunset on April 8 through nightfall on April 16, our Jewish sisters and brothers will commemorate Passover: Liberation from Egyptian slavery.
  • Expected to begin on the evening of April 23, our Muslim sisters and brothers will begin a month-long commemoration of Ramadan: Liberation from that which causes distance from Allah.

three-religious-symbolsAll three of these religious observances focus adherents on living freely and fully in right relationship with God and others. From what do we need to liberate ourselves to live freely and fully in right relationship now?  In the topsy-turviness of COVID-19, perhaps for many of us it’s fear. In fact, in David Brook’s recent column in the New York Times, “The Moral Meaning of the Plague,” he said that, “we are all assigned the task of confronting our own fear.”

This is no small task, and there are days when we wonder how we can possibly do so. The Tanakh, Bible, and Qur’ān, however, assure us that God will provide what we need, day by day and sometimes minute by minute: Act out of faith rather than out of fear! (The most frequently repeated message in the Bible is actually “Do not be afraid.”) Our fears will not vanish, but we can live out of our grounding in faith.

We are on a journey in this difficult time. For the Jewish people, Passover was only the beginning of their journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land.  For Jesus’ disciples, his passion, death, and Resurrection was also only the beginning of their mission, as difficult times lay ahead. Likewise, for Muhammad the Prophet and the early Muslims, the first Ramadan was only the beginning of receiving Allah’s revelations, as full reception requires discipline and focus.

Our Mission of healing joins us together, and it means more than ever to both caregivers and care receivers. Like people of faith through the ages, we persevere.

Together As One: Colleagues Encouraged to Submit Videos, Photos of Covid Experience

We want to hear from you! During this unprecedented time, we want you to have the opportunity to share stories of the incredible acts going on around you from every corner of our hospitals and health centers. If you have a moment, please send us “selfie” videos: We want to know how you’re feeling; let us hear about the strength and compassion of your co-workers; share your thoughts and feelings; send messages of reflection, hope and encouragement to your patients and colleagues across the state and nation. Together As One!

We realize this is a very trying time and do not expect that all videos will uplifting. When this is over, our hope is that these videos will serve as reflection to the extraordinary lengths that our colleagues/heroes endured to care for their patients and each other.

To submit a “Together As One” video, there are a few requests and ground rules:

• These videos are not intended to voice concerns. Please voice those concerns through the proper administrative channels.
• NO Protected Health Information (PHI) can be in the video, per HIPAA.
• Record on your personal device in horizontal view and hold it steady.
• Please do not share to your personal social media. We want this to be original work for our completed piece.
• Send your video file to

Our hope is to use as many as we can in a highlights video, but we may not be able to use all. We may use it in other ways – from reflections to internal / external videos. Thanks you for all that you are doing… you are truly Remarkable.

COVID-19 Update: Non-Urgent Elective Surgeries Postponed; Emergent Procedures Continue

To keep patients safe during the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak caused by coronavirus, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and Mercy Health have developed a process to identify the clinical urgency of procedures that are currently scheduled this week through April 6, 2020. As a result –

  • We are postponing all non-urgent surgical and invasive elective procedures (in endoscopy, radiology and cardiology departments) through April 6. We are reviewing already scheduled elective cases and procedures with each physician to determine the need and timing of operation.
  • We understand that some elective operations are urgent in nature and as such, some cases will be allowed to proceed as scheduled.
  • Surgeries will continue for patient circumstances requiring urgent or emergent surgical intervention.

Our first priority is to safeguard patients and staff while at the same time maintaining our commitment to the well-being of our patients.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we will reassess scheduled elective surgeries scheduled after April 6, 2020.

Trinity Health, St. Joe’s and Mercy Health Canceling Community Events Through April

UPDATE FOR EVENT ORGANIZERS:  See this template message when announcing cancelation to your attendees – Email Message to Meeting Participants  (on SharePoint only).

UPDATE (March 26, 2020) – All Community events are cancelled through April 2020.

Based on the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) response recommendations and acting in an abundance of caution to ensure we do not contribute to additional risk of exposure to the virus for our colleagues, physicians, patients, residents and the communities we serve, effective immediately, Trinity Health and its ministries will not participate in or hold external community events. This includes events within any of our facilities or within the community. Additionally, we will no longer hold internal events or meetings with more than 20 colleagues (attendees).

For a listing of canceled events, visit –

Southeast Michigan events:

West Michigan events:

Event Organizers: See this template message when announcing cancelation to your attendees – Email Message to Meeting Participants  (on SharePoint only).

This action follows CDC guidelines to limit gatherings that could unintentionally put colleagues, patients, residents, and our community members at risk. These guidelines are in effect until at least Tuesday, March 31 and will be reassessed at that time.

We recognize that events can be important opportunities to connect with people and advance our Mission. However, our priority is always the health and safety of our colleagues, physicians, patients, residents and the communities we serve. At this time, these additional precautions are prudent and necessary.


    • Trinity Health and its ministries will not sponsor* or participate in community events. This cessation includes attendance at events and providing colleagues to staff sponsored events.
  • Internal events with more than 20 people will be cancelled and teleconferencing or other options should be used.
  • Internal events or meetings may continue with no more than 20 attendees (no external attendees). Attendees should follow CDC recommendations to keep 6 feet away from each other with no physical contact such as shaking hands or hugging.
  • The only exception to this direction is if colleagues, physicians or clinicians are requested or required to attend an in-person emergency management meeting called by local, state or federal emergency response agencies.

Thank you for your understanding and your ongoing support as we continue to manage through this global health concern, together.

Michael Slubowski
President and CEO, Trinity Health

Benjamin Carter
COO, Trinity Health

*Financial sponsorships of events to which we have already committed will be honored, but no colleagues or clinicians should attend or support in a medical or staffing capacity.