Diocesan News

Cardinal Tagle’s Visit is ‘Like Sunlight’ For a Queens Hospital’s Staff and Patients 

  • Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle poses with Elmhurst Center Hospital nurses on a June 2 visit, where he offered them words of encouragement, and thanked them for their work through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photos: John Lavenburg)
  • Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle greets the administration and staff at Elmhurst Center Hospital at the start of a June 2 visit.
  • A patient at Elmhurst Center Hospital on June 2 as she is greeted by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle. He read her a blessing moments later.
  • Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle posing with Elmhurst Memorial Hospital staff on a June 2 visit. Moments before, he blessed a newborn baby that was born with Down Syndrome, and will have emergency surgery for other complications in the near future.


ELMHURST — Minutes after Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle spoke to the Elmhurst Hospital Center administration and staff, Liberty Abelido presented him with a boxed pastry — simultaneously upholding the Filipino tradition of offering food to someone when they arrive, and showing appreciation for the visit.

“How many times in a lifetime will you be visited by a cardinal? It’s a big honor,” Abelido, a registered nurse at the hospital who is Filipino, told The Tablet. “We in the Filipino community have so much respect for him, so it’s an amazing opportunity.” 

The moment (minus the pastry) was emblematic of the interactions Cardinal Tagle had throughout his June 2 midday visit to the hospital. He arrived around 11:30 a.m., and after brief greetings with hospital administrators made his way to an auditorium, where more healthcare workers awaited his arrival. 

Elmhurst Center Hospital serves about 1.1 million people in Queens. It was one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. In opening remarks, Father Manuel De Jesús Rodriguez of Our Lady of Sorrows called the hospital a “blessing” to the community, noting that the staff “never quit” no matter what difficulties COVID-19 caused. 

Cardinal Tagle made the visit to offer words of appreciation and encouragement. He anchored his remarks on the concepts of vulnerability and encounter. 

“We’re all vulnerable in that we reach our limits as human beings, but then that becomes a point of encounter,” Cardinal Tagle said. “In that moment no one is superior and that’s the common condition of humanity. That’s why even if I am quite sad, it is also a moment of blessing and grace where we are able to be with people when they need others so much.” 

“So please use your talents, your competence, everything, but also most of all please come for the sake of their families as a brother, sister, as a fellow human being,” he continued. “They sense that and that is a source of big joy and consolation for them.”

Cardinal Tagle also encouraged the hospital workers to collect stories of “hope, of human strength, of solidarity and communion,” as they care for patients.

“I’m sure you won’t run out of those stories,” Cardinal Tagle said. “You can spend the whole night counting how the most vulnerable are really the source of strength for so many of us.” 

From the auditorium, Cardinal Tagle blessed some patients. His first stop was to the room of a woman who has a brain tumor and recently had a stroke. After greeting her he read her a blessing, and, still somewhat shocked, she responded that she is “so blessed to have everyone here” in the room with her. 

Cardinal Tagle then made his way up to the eighth floor where he blessed a newborn with Down Syndrome and other complications that demand emergency surgery. Then he went over to a couple, still in hospital gowns holding their newborn in their arms, and blessed them too. 

Those stops concluded the visit, other than a presentation of gifts from the administration and staff to Cardinal Tagle — a quarter-zip pullover emblazoned with the Elmhurst Hospital logo. 

Joann Gull, the hospital’s chief nursing officer, who has been there for 50 years, told The Tablet that she and the rest of the staff “feel blessed” that Cardinal Tagle was willing to share some time with them. 

“For staff morale it’s great,” Gull said. “We have suffered a lot during this time so it’s like sunlight coming to us.” 

Cardinal Tagle told The Tablet that he was “happy to see the spirit of solidarity, dedication, and compassion of the administration and staff” throughout the visit. 

One thought on “Cardinal Tagle’s Visit is ‘Like Sunlight’ For a Queens Hospital’s Staff and Patients 

  1. A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Cardinal Tagle when he was passing through Northern Virginia. He literally just stopped to say noon Mass at St James. If our church had more members of the clergy like Cardinal Tagle, we’d be in a lot better shape than we are. He’s a pastoral, approachable, kind, and funny priest.