Guests and staff at Ascension St. John Owasso were greeted with a poignant sight earlier last week.
The local hospital displayed a first-of-its-kind traveling pandemic crucifix in the entranceway of its main lobby on Tuesday, March 30.
Ascension received the crucifix in December from Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski of the St. Louis Archdiocese as a symbol of hope for both medical staff and their patients in their fight against the coronavirus.
“It’s a tangible way for us to realize that we’re the healing ministry of Jesus, and uniting our prayer of healing and just the journey of this pandemic with the other Ascension facilities and the greater community at large,” said Ron Tremblay, vice president and chief mission integration officer for Ascension.
The crucifix represents the same one that inspired the people of Rome to turn to God during an epidemic in 1522, Tremblay said. Pope Francis returned that crucifix to Rome in the early days of the 2020 pandemic.
Owasso’s hospital was one of the first stops Tremblay and his team made during their journey to display the crucifix at nearly a dozen Ascension sites across northeast Oklahoma and surrounding states over the next two weeks.
Both the crucifix and a signed declaration from Rozanski are exhibited in an encased glass display as part of the traveling memorial. It depicts Jesus’ extended pierced hands, which Tremblay cites as a portrayal of sacrifice that he and his fellow hospital staff can strive to represent in their own lives.
“We as providers, we stretch every day like Jesus, between brokenness and healing … between grace and sin,” Tremblay said. “We continue to share in that action of stretching our arms and going between as Jesus did, so that’s how I’ve really personalized the whole experience.”
The pandemic crucifix will eventually travel to all Ascension sites in 19 states and the District of Columbia, with the Tulsa-area region’s tour ending in the Mary K. Chapman Health Plaza of the hospital’s Utica branch on April 8.