By Catherine Bares:
Frank and I had our marriage validated in the Catholic Church back in 2014. That is when we met Deacon Durr, the subject of this story. I wasn't sure what to expect when we met him for the first time. Surprisingly, both my husband and I were at complete ease with Deacon Durr. He turned out to be such a compassionate, loving, spiritual man who would have a large role in my spiritual journey.
On March 31, 2020, I read an announcement on his social media page that startled me. Deacon Durr had been hospitalized after testing positive with the COVID-19 virus. He was exposed during his work at Hospice. On account of it taking five days to receive the results from the test, the symptoms were getting worse. Of course, I was in shock and started praying for him. I can only imagine what his family was going through. I've heard many stories that paint a picture of loneliness and uncertainty when it comes to this pandemic and those affected by it.
After things settled down and I was sure that Deacon Durr was well on his way to a strong recovery, I asked him if I could interview him for my blog. I wanted to tell his story.
He said, "I think this is God knocking on our hearts to let us know it's time to get back to family."
CB: You said you were exposed to COVID-19 while working in Hospice. What symptoms were you presenting that made you decide to get tested?
DD: I started having trouble breathing and my temperature was up. I had the test performed, and it took 5 days to get the results back. It was 8 to 10 days after symptoms started before I went to the hospital. When they told me I was positive for COVID-19, they instructed me to go to the ER.
CB: Tell me about the ER visit.
DD: I went from the ER to the ICU on March 31, 2020. Once in ICU, the virus progressed quickly. I ended up with a viral and bacterial infection caused by pneumonia. They gave me the MS drug that is being used to treat COVID-19, but it didn't work. It was then when the doctors told me I would only make it if I was intubated. My son-in-law's father, Dr. Tim Finney, did some research on treatments and met with my doctors. One of which was
Dr. Frank Rabito, a specialist in infectious diseases, who made the decision on my treatment. I had 15 doctors in all. On the fourth day after the second treatment, I was completely cured. The doctors said it was a miracle.
CB: Wow, were you scared?
DD: I wasn't afraid for myself, I was afraid for my family. My Patron Saint is St. Francis of Cabrini. I held her relic and prayed. Prayers were coming from all regions of the world! The power of prayers lifted my spirit. It was a true miracle.
CB: What do you remember after you were intubated?
DD: I remember waking up at times and I would see kaleidoscope colors all over the place. I did have a spiritual experience. I was in a large cave, there were people all over the place. They were watching a man, and I heard someone say, "That is Jesus." I saw Jesus's hands, so I knew that it was him. He asked, "Where's Eve?" Then he said, "Follow me." I can remember thinking that I must have died. Then I thought, Man, I have a shot at this (meaning a shot at going to Heaven).
[When Deacon Durr told me that, I was taken aback. He is the most loving, compassionate, spiritual person I have ever been associated with. I went home and told my husband about the interview and said, "If he has trouble getting into Heaven, the rest of us are doomed."]
DD: Then I remember hearing someone calling me, "Deacon, Deacon, wake up." It was my nurse trying to wake me. She said they had been trying to wake me for a couple of days.
CB: How did your experience make you feel?
DD: I feel humbled. It was incredible. My nurses prayed with me. Everyone was great. I will tell you that I am dedicating the rest of my life to those that died and to all the front line workers.
CB: How long were you isolated? It must have been tough not seeing your family.
DD: I was isolated for 14 or 15 days. It was tough on all of us. I was only able to Facetime with them a couple of times. It was tough not having my best friend and wife of 39 years with me. You get used to having your family with you and around. Someone to talk to and be with. However, my nurse, Megan, stayed by my side the entire time. She was velvet over steel.
I did suffer from survivors' remorse in the beginning. Many didn't make it. ICU was full. We were shielded from each other. Before I left the hospital, the nurses rolled me through ICU so I could thank the nurses and doctors. It was a great moment.
CB: Tell me about your support system.
DD: I volunteer at Cabrini High School. The students were awesome! They were sending emails, dropping off cards at the hospital. The principle held a virtual rosary prayer session. Word and prayers came from Cabrini institutions around the world. Prayer is what got me through it.
CB: I have to say, Deacon, that you are the most caring, laid back religious figure that I have ever met. My husband and I kept you in our prayers and are thankful to have you in our lives.
DD: Well, you know, I never judge anyone. I put myself in their shoes and try to understand them and go wherever the Holy Spirit takes me. I love helping young people.
CB: Do any of your students have nicknames for you?
DD: Most of them call me Deacon Durr. Some just Deacon and some call me Big U. Uriel is my first name. It's great. I am now counseling and marrying some of my prior students. I'm even baptizing their children. I am truly blessed.
Timeline with Homily and Scriptures
Since Deacon Durr inspires me, I decided to look up the Catholic daily scriptures and Homilies to see if any seemed fitting for the timeline.
March 31, 2020—Deacon Durr hospitalized.
God has not left me alone, because I do what is pleasing to him - John 8:21-30
April 4, 2020—Deacon Durr was intubated.
Castaway from you all the crimes you have committed, says the Lord, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.
—The verse before the Gospel
April 7, 2020—Deacon Durr was extubated.
Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father; you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.
—The verse before the Gospel
April 8, 2020—Deacon Durr wakes up.
Hail to you, our King; you alone are compassionate with our errors.
—The verse before the Gospel
April 13, 2020—Deacon Durr returns home.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.
—The Responsorial Psalms
As I am proofreading this story, I am shedding tears. Knowing Deacon Uriel Durr makes me want to be a better person. He performed my marriage ceremony. He has prayed for me and my family. I have stood alongside him with my grandson, feeding the homeless. I suddenly realize that I am a better person for knowing him.
Thank you, Deacon Durr, for all you do.
Catherine Bares is a blogger, wife, mother, grandmother, Profit Coach & Trainer in the A/C and Heating Industry, and Group Fitness instructor residing in Southern Louisiana. Her mission is to be a source of inspiration for self-improvement for others to live a happier and healthier life.
Visit her blog : www.beentheredonethatblogger.com
Read Elizabeth Gracen's interview with Catherine Bares here.