Vaccinations lead to ‘busy and joyous day’ at St. Charles

BRIDGEPORT—Approximately 100 Bridgeport residents received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna) today through a joint effort between St. Vincent’s Medical Center and the Diocese of Bridgeport.

St. Vincent’s Medical set up a mobile a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for St. Charles Borromeo Church parishioners at the nearby McGivney Community Center, which share the East Side location with the parish.

Parishioners pre-registered for the event, which was held from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. St. Vincent’s will also provide virtual registrars who help additional parishioners to make an appointment online.

“Our mission as a Catholic Church is to save souls and lives,” said Father Abelardo Vasquez, administrator, St. Charles Borromeo Church. “Today, there was a great response from the community.”

Bill Hoey, vice president of Mission Integration at St. Vincent’s Medical Center/Hartford HealthCare Fairfield Region, said that since its founding in 1903, St. Vincent’s Medical Center has a history of bringing much needed medical services into the community.

“As part of the Bridgeport Diocese, we are eager to bring the vaccine to parishioners of Catholic Churches located in areas of Bridgeport that have disproportionately low rates of vaccination,” he said.

Hoey said the event, and others like it, is part of a concerted effort to eliminate barriers to access and achieve more equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Father Abelardo said the clinic made it possible “to help four different communities with these vaccines,” explained Father Abelardo, referring to the Haitian, Hispanic, Portuguese and African American communities who all attend St. Charles Borromeo Church.

Father Abelardo explained that there was originally some hesitation surrounding the vaccine, because it is so new, but that he was able to make personal phone calls and speak about the importance of getting vaccinated at Mass.

“Once we were working from the pulpit, parishioners were able to trust that the vaccine can be trusted,” Father Abelardo said.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive, says Lorraine Gibbons, executive director of the Cardinal Shehan Center and McGivney Community Center, “from members of the church, the McGivney staff who were vaccinated, to the general public.”

“Individuals were excited and truly looking forward to being vaccinated, she said, explaining that she received text messages from individuals who saw the media coverage and wanted to learn how they could go about being vaccinated. “The vaccine clinic was a true community partnership with the church, the diocese, Hartford Healthcare-St. Vincent’s Medical Center and a local Community Center, to help provide access to an underrepresented community that is often overlooked- for this I’m truly grateful!”

“Working in community with St. Vincent’s and Hartford Health, we were able to distribute these vaccines to the parish community, and we are so grateful for that,” said Father Abelardo. “It was a very busy day, but it was a joyous one.”