CHICAGO — A local pastor lost his sister to COVID-19 and the congregation at New Mount Pilgrim is mourning after the loss.
A few people have died this last week at the church. Not all of the deaths were related to the virus, but some were. In the week leading up to Easter the members of the church are certainly looking for some hope.
“I had a feeling. I talked to her right before, I prayed with her. I had a feeling that might have been the last time I talked to her on the phone,” the Rev. Marshall Hatch said.
Rhoda Jean Hatch, 73, died Saturday after complications from COVID-19 and asthma. Her family describes her as a trailblazer. She was the first in her family to attend college and was a public school teacher for 20 years and was also a church musician.
She got sick two weeks ago before needing to be put on a respirator. Her brother, the pastor at New Mount Pilgrim Church in West Garfield Park said the week has been surreal.
Her family was only allowed to visit her once — two days before she died. They were also not allowed to touch her. Now, like so many other families, they will not have the chance to celebrate her life as they would have wanted to, before this crisis.
While their church services have gone virtual, it is not easy preaching to an empty room, but her brother said he will do everything he can on Easter Sunday to bring hope to his congregation.
“We have to have people understand the resurrection of hope in the middle of everything we face, still have to be hopeful, stay together by staying apart, how to move forward and you know, make our communities better,” Hatch said.
On Monday, Illinois public health officials said 70% of the people who have died from COVID-19 had an underlying condition. The most common are hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.