For Fr. Damian Ezeani, health care is about physical, mental and spiritual well-being. As the director of mission and spiritual care for Mercy Health in Lorain, Ohio, he provides constant reminders to leaders, providers and team members about the ministry’s mission, vision and core values.
Fr. Damian says that he believes strongly in the words of the Roman poet Virgil that “the greatest health is wealth,” and that it aligns with our mission of improving the health and well-being of the communities we serve as a ministry. Part of the mission means that much of the work he and our mission teams focus on relate to helping the poor, dying and underserved as Jesus did.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Fr. Damian recognized the devastating impacts it had on both patients and those who treated them. While health care providers on the frontlines helped heal the sick, the stress, anxiety, fear, frustration, exhaustion and burnout was not limited to them.
Out of this situation came the idea for an interdepartmental project called the Garden of Hope. Though it was designed to foster the connection to one another and the Earth while promoting hope and sustainability, a more prominent result has been a sense of healing, hope and rejuvenation for our team members who have seen too much sadness and despair throughout the pandemic.
Fr. Damian says that while the yields from the garden, which include a variety of vegetables and herbs, served as a tangible result of the project, the most meaningful ones were those that grew within our team members.
“Watching the new plants spring up created wonderful moments for our staff, and nurtured hope and healing as we fought COVID-19,” he shares.
As for his role within the ministry, Fr. Damian sees it as one of support – “healing the healers.”
“Whenever I inspire any provider or associate to see their jobs through the lens of our mission, I have a great sense of accomplishment,” he says. “In addition, whenever I comfort, encourage and support our patients, leaders, providers and associates, I am filled with joy.”