The hearts of Sacred Heart parishioners are heavy right now. Their pastor, Claretian Father Daryl Olds, suffered a massive stroke June 19. Two weeks later, he remains in intensive care in stable, but critical condition.
Priests and deacons are taking turns sitting with him throughout the day. The parish has three other active priests and three deacons. It was one of the deacons who checked on Fr. Olds when he didn’t show up for a scheduled appointment.
“His memory is sharp and he can comprehend questions by answering yes or no,” Deacon Pete Balland wrote in a note to parishioners.
Deb Gallegos, parish web developer, social media guru and a friend of the pastor, said parishioners are very actively praying for Fr. Daryl and asking for updates. She provides them via the parish website and Facebook page.
Some members of the community gathered for a rosary the evening of his stroke. The youth group started a novena in his honor the following day.
“He’s doing better, but he’s not out of the woods,” Gallegos said. Each update leaves her feeling pleased and hopeful.
Gallegos said it’s tough to have the sudden loss of a parish pastor in active ministry, but is grateful to have Fr. Darrin Merlino as the temporary administrator. He was assigned to the parish once before and returned last summer. Parish leaders hope to be getting rotating help in the coming months to help cover Sacred Heart’s two daily and six weekend Masses.
A memorial service may be on the horizon too. Nothing is scheduled yet, but parishioners have been requesting one as a way to pray for the 19 Prescott-based firefighters who died June 30 while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire. None of them were parishioners or related to parish families, but some were friends with members of Sacred Heart.
Gallegos was leaving the prayer service for one of three parishioners who passed away in the last week when she learned about the loss of all but one member of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew. Some parish families are among those evacuated and staying at an American Red Cross shelter set up at nearby Yavapai Community College.