A great profile from NOLA.com:
For the most intimate moments of his parishioners’ lives, Deacon Uriel Durr has been there to touch a hand, give a hug and say a prayer. It could well have been one such moment when he contracted coronavirus, sending him into a weeks-long ordeal doctors feared he’d never return from.
Durr, 65, said it’s likely he caught the virus from one of his patients, most of whom are older or especially ill at Passages Hospice on Dublin Street.
His role as chaplain, he said, requires an amount of closeness that breaks all social distancing etiquette. It’s also what he loves about ministry.
“It’s a rewarding thing to be there and hold someone’s hand when they’re dying and give the family a hug,” Durr said. “It might sound kind of crazy.”
Durr said hospice work is only one of the many hats he wears as a deacon in metro New Orleans, but the job has opened doors to officiating weddings, blessing babies and sustaining lifelong friendships.
“He is like a rock,” said Susie O’Mahoney, who met Durr at Passages five years ago when her 20-year-old daughter, Kelly, was dying of brain cancer. “He is one of those people that says, ‘When you need me, call me.’”
When O’Mahoney’s daughter passed away, Durr was there to squeeze her hand and help her family plan the funeral. He would later officiate the wedding of her oldest daughter and assist with bereavement when O’Mahoney’s husband passed away suddenly.
The intimacy of his ministry is likely how Durr ended up in East Jefferson General Hospital, where he battled coronavirus for 14 days. Doctors said at one point, he had only a 20% chance of surviving.
Read on, for details of his diagnosis and his long road to recovery.