By Kayleigh Pigg
As of Nov. 7, 2014, Dallas is Ebola free. The Catholic Diocese of Dallas played no small role in ensuring that Ebola did not spread and that those at risk received the care they needed.
The Center for Disease Control records that nearly 177 people came into contact with either Thomas Eric Duncan, the original Ebola patient in Dallas, or the two nurses who contracted the disease, Amber Vinson and Nina Pham.
The Diocese of Dallas took in the family of Duncan’s fiancée, Louise Troh, and gave them shelter during their 21 days of isolated incubation. Troh, along with her 13-year-old son and two nephews, spent their incubation in a roomy cabin at the Catholic Conference and Formation Center in Oak Cliff, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings and County Judge Clay Jenkins sought out Bishop Kevin Farrell, asking him if the diocese would house the Troh family.
“I had to think of the consequences, but it was in my heart all the time that I had to do something,” Farrell stated, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Annette Taylor, a representative of the Diocese of Dallas, spoke to The University News, saying that the way the Troh family was treated by the residents of Dallas was unacceptable.
“They had felt like they were in a fishbowl in their old apartment because not only was there extreme media attention, but they felt like they were unwelcome and they were always under the questioning eyes of their neighbors,” Taylor said.
The event is significant in that government officials turned to the Catholic Church in their time of need. Farrell believes it is the duty of the Church to help others, no matter the danger they carry.
“We help people because we’re Catholic, not because they’re Catholic,” Farrell said. “It is an example of what it means to care for our brothers and sisters … irrespective of where they come from, what race or what religion they were.”
The Diocese of Dallas is now reflecting on the effects of their openness to the family of the deceased Ebola victim, and the risk that was taken on their behalf.
Taylor told The University News that the diocese is proud of the work they have done in connection with the mayor and county judge.
It is Taylor’s and the bishop’s hope that the world, and especially the people of Dallas, have learned their lesson, and in the future will not be quick to make judgments and incite fear.
“I think Bishop Farrell hopes that people learn,” Taylor said. “He has said that he hopes people learn that we can’t jump to conclusions, we have to keep level heads and we can’t let fear rule us. That we have to trust medical science and certainly take all and every precaution we can, but not to over react and not to ostracize people because you are fearful something might happen.”
Taylor announced that she is certain that the country has begun to learn its lesson about the treatment of people during difficult times.
Letters from across the nation have contacted the diocese with the desire to help the Troh family, Taylor stated. These letters contained offers of financial aid and even offers to replace the furniture that was lost when their house was sterilized.
Taylor is glad that the bishop’s act of charity is what sparked their desire to help.
“This story was carried around the world and certainly around our country,” she said. “We’ve heard from Catholics throughout the United States who, after reading the story or seeing it on TV and hearing Bishop Farrell’s words were very touched by that, were touched by the bishop’s concern for the family and the outreach of the church to this family in need even though they were not themselves Catholic.”