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Back in July, a New York priest rushing to attend to the needs of a dying patient, dared to park in a space reserved for an ambulance at a local hospital. Sure enough, a $150 parking ticket was waiting for him on his way out.
Father Cletus Forson, of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Brooklyn, unsuccessfully appealed the ticket.
In their decision, Appeals Board Judges Irwin Strum and Diane Pine wrote that, while they “accept” Father Forson was filling a “religious obligation,” they ruled he still broke the law by parking in an ambulance zone, the Associated Press reported.
As news broke of the ruling, support poured in for the priest. Nearly $1,500 was donated to pay for the parking ticket. Needless to say, the good father has pledged the extra money to charity.
Body and soul are intrinsic and inseparable elements of our personhood. Modern science and medical advances have made a tremendous contribution to humanity. But spiritual care is as important as medical care. Sickness and death are crucial and unavoidable moments in every person’s life. They are, in fact, privileged moments in one’s spiritual journey.
This urban story highlights the importance of the spiritual care that a myriad of priests, chaplains and volunteers provide selflessly every day, helping the sick to reconcile with God and to make sense of the suffering they are going through.
It is not that priests should not abide by parking regulations. But the support Father Forson received from anonymous donors is a refreshing sign of the importance that many people still give to spiritual care.