No Last Rites

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by Kristine Christlieb  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 24, 2020   

Hospital rules forbid sacraments

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TAMUNING, Guam (ChurchMilitant.com) - A hospital security guard who was fired after advocating for last rites is asking for prayers.

Robert Glemann, a father of two, was dismissed in late June from his position as a security officer in Guam Memorial Hospital's emergency room (ER). His offense was urging hospital and clergy to allow patients to receive last rites.

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Guam Memorial Hospital

A perfect storm for Glemann's dismissal was owing to the presence of a top hospital administrator who was opposed to the sacraments, plus secular-minded clergy, as well as confusion about hospital policy. 

Glemann told Church Militant that Catholic clergy at the hospital did not understand their spiritual roles nor their innate authority.

"They are too obedient to the secular people. Priests are above them [secular authorities] spiritually. They are our spiritual fathers," related Glemann.

Blocking a Sacrament

Shortly after Glemann began working in ER, he overheard a nurse saying a woman was dying. He called a priest friend to administer last rites, but the priest was denied access to the emergency room. When Glemann learned that the woman died without last rites, he was deeply troubled.

"I was greatly distraught," Glemann remembered. "I knew someone in the hospital administration was preventing priests from administering last rites. That's not okay. Every employee signs a document vowing to God to uphold the Constitution. I'm bound by that so I was very motivated to help this woman." 

I knew someone in the hospital administration was preventing priests from administering last rites.

According to Church Militant's in-house theologian Bradley Eli, reception of last rites can be a matter of eternal importance.

"At the moment of death, a soul may be in the state of mortal sin or in the perilous condition of despair. In that hour, reception of sanctifying grace via sacramental confession, anointing of the sick, and Holy Communion may well be the deciding factor on whether the soul goes to Heaven or Hell for all eternity," Eli emphasized.


 

Glemann's zeal for souls led him to file a grievance with the hospital's human resources department. This triggered a series of meetings and letters between the archdiocese of Agana and Guam Memorial Hospital administrator Lillian Perez Posadas. 

Writing on behalf of the diocese, Episcopal Vicar Fr. Ronald S. Richards requested a meeting with Posadas citing the need for "URGENCY" and saying "we have encountered numerous misunderstandings with the personnel at the hospital with regards to hospital ministry to the patients."

Policy Conflicts

The hospital had a current policy of not allowing clergy into the ER. The archdiocese was willing to comply with the policy. But some ER personnel, including Glemann, were calling priests. Some of these priests were allowed access to patients while others were not.

Glemann learned of another woman close to death from a stroke. He called his priest friend, who this time, expressed some reluctance.

"Zeal for the kingdom kicked in and I tell him [the priest] it's his duty to administer last rites," Glemann explained.

Glemann said he got the impression that the priest felt scolded and didn't want to come.

Glemann said he got the impression that the priest felt scolded and didn't want to come.

"I started stressing out," said Glemann. "Everyone wanted him to come. The family members requested it. One of the nurses called the priest and assured him it would be allowed."

The discussion went back and forth. Another priest eventually arrived and did administer last rites. Glemann related his sentiments from that time.

'A Servant Is Not Above His Master'

"I thought, if I lose my job because of these administrators who are godless, it will be worth it," he confessed.

Glemann is not sure of the communication between the archdiocese and the hospital following the incident, but his supervisor asked him to document what happened. About a week later, he was fired on a technicality based on a "possible HIPAA violation."

Glemann is disappointed in the clergy's response. He says many people don't fault clergy for their compliance with secular policies.

"Most people would give them a pass. They have their power, their pride, their lack of belief," he observed.

While Glemann is requesting the prayers of fellow believers, the family man is not bitter. He understands "a servant is not above his master."

"It happened to Jesus. It's a suffering God wanted me to endure," he affirmed.

Church Militant attempted to reach Guam Memorial Hospital administration and the clergy contact Glemann provided. At the time of publication, neither had responded.

Glemann has set up a Fundly account to help cover loss of income and relocation expenses. To contribute, click here.

 

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