Unable to visit her father in the hospital as he died of Covid-19, Dunia Barrios watched through a Facetime livestream as Fr. Ryan Connors administered the Anointing of the Sick to her father, Otto. Donned in full PPE, Fr. Connors took a cotton swab dipped in holy oil, and lightly anointed Otto’s arms and forehead, giving him the final sacrament in the middle of an isolated ICU. Dunia watched the rite in silence and after a brief two minutes, Fr. Connors finished the sacrament and quickly left the room.
In April, the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston assembled a team of priests under 45 years old to administer Last Rites to Catholic patients dying of Covid-19 in hospitals and nursing homes. The selected priests lived in quarantined homes—three priests per home—where together they ate, studied, said Mass and waited for calls from the hospitals. With consent from the Archdiocese, the hospitals and the patient’s families, I followed a team of priests for three weeks as they anointed Covid-19 patients throughout the Boston area. The Catholic Church has dealt with plague and pandemic over the centuries, and this story looks at how it is being forced to evolve during the Covid era. The story published on June 6, 2020 in The New York Times under the title “A Reminder That We Are Not Alone: The Final Anointing” and was written by NYT religion reporter, Elizabeth Dias.
This story is a top-three finalist for the 2020 Feature Award in photojournalism for Visa pour l’image in Perpignan, France