Louisiana priest in Washington spends hours with Scalise at hospital

IMAGE: CNS photo/Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald

By Christine Bordelon

ORLEANS (CNS) — Father Tim Hedrick, parochial vicar of St. Catherine of Siena
Church in Metairie, was in Washington continuing his canon law studies when a
news alert came across his phone June 14 that Louisiana Congressman Steve
Scalise, the House majority whip, had been shot.

immediately called and texted Jennifer (Scalise’s wife) to let her know that I
was here (in D.C.) and would go and be with Steve,” Father Hedrick told the
Clarion Herald, newspaper of the New Orleans Archdiocese.

his wife, Jennifer, and the couple’s two children, Harrison and Madison, are
Catholic and are parishioners of St. Catherine.

Hedrick said Jennifer Scalise, who was back home with the children in
Louisiana, called for a police detail to pick up the priest from The Catholic
University of America to take him to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where
Scalise was being treated.

was already in surgery, and they brought me down to surgery and I actually got
to watch the surgery,” Father Hedrick said, who learned that several members of
the surgery team were Catholic.

felt very comforted to know I was there, and they asked me to pray for them,”
Father Hedrick said. He was at the hospital for 12 hours that first day and was
able to give the sacrament of the anointing of the sick to Scalise.

early June 19, Scalise remained in serious condition. Over the June 17-18
weekend, he was upgraded from serious condition. He has undergone several surgeries
since he took a bullet to the hip early in the morning of June 14 while at a
baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Doctors at MedStar Washington
Hospital Center said the bullet fractured bones, injured internal organs and
caused severe bleeding.

and fellow GOP House members along with staffers and others were practicing for
the annual Congressional Baseball Game, which is played for charity. Four
others, including Capitol police officers who were on Scalise’s protective
detail, a congressional staffer and a lobbyist, also were injured. The shooter,
now identified as James Hodgkinson, died at the scene.

being there as a familiar face” at the hospital has been comforting to Jennifer
Scalise, Father Hedrick said. “(I am) one who can pray with her and pray for
Steve. … I prayed with him first.”

Hedrick said he also has taken on the role of Jennifer’s communicator of
Scalise’s condition with St. Catherine parishioners.

updates she asks me to give, I do,” Father Hedrick said. “She wants to thank
everyone for their outpouring of support. She’s strong. She’s done great.”

who represents Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District, had participated for
several years in the congressional baseball fundraiser since being elected to
office in 2008. The game, with the GOP lawmakers versus Democratic House members,
went on as scheduled the evening of June 16.

Hedrick has been parochial vicar at the Scalises’ parish since July 2014.

know him in my role as a priest and fellow (Archbishop) Rummel (High) graduate.
And they (the family) come to church,” he said.

Hedrick said he has been in Washington the past three summers studying canon law
and has visited Scalise in his congressional office.

Pope Francis spoke to a joint session of Congress in 2015, the congressman was
able to secure tickets not only for wife Jennifer but also for Father Hedrick
and New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond to attend

the shooting, Father Hedrick said has visited the Scalises every day. He was
present when President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited
Scalise in the hospital and learned the president had called Jennifer
immediately after the shooting.

interesting thing about the Trump visit — it was his birthday,” Father
Hedrick. “He left his birthday party with Melania to meet with Jennifer. When
President Trump came in, he was so calm and caring and concerned about Jennifer
and Steve. He promised to help them and support them.”

of Scalise’s hometown of Metairie have shown their love and concern. On the
evening of the shooting, St. Catherine of Siena held a short prayer service for
the Scalise family and all those injured.

groups, including the Knights of Columbus, also were rallying to schedule blood
drives on Scalise’s behalf; he has had several blood transfusions. Archbishop
Rummel High School, where Scalise graduated in 1983, planned a drive June 23.

Hedrick said Archbishop Aymond called Jennifer the day of the shooting and
offered his prayerful support.

the kind of support they are getting,” Father Hedrick said. “It’s a great
comfort for her to know that people are praying for her back home. The
president, archbishop and all these people, in the midst of the tragedy, are
supporting her and praying for her.”

Hedrick considers it providential that he was in Washington when Scalise was
shot and in such close proximity to the hospital where he was taken. MedStar
Washington Hospital Center is three blocks from Catholic University.

can see it from my bedroom window,” he said. “It is comforting for the
(Scalise) family but also for St. Catherine family that someone from their
community is taking care of one of their own.”

said he also has gotten to know the Capitol police officers injured with
Scalise on the baseball field, because they accompany the congressman to Mass
when he is in Metairie. Father Hedrick is glad he can be there for them as well
and said they were doing OK after the shooting.

Hedrick said Jennifer Scalise asked everyone to keep praying for her husband,
the other who were injured, the medical staff and her family.

will remain in the hospital for some time and faces rehabilitation. The MedStar
staff said other surgeries are necessary to manage abdominal and bone injuries.

got great care,” Father Hedrick said. “The doctors are taking care of him. It’s
just going to take time.”

– –

Bordelon is associate editor of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article