updated 01/11/2012 AT 2:35 PM ET
•originally published 01/14/2012 AT 10:00 AM ET
We’re nearing the end of our trip and we head for Fr. Rick’s and the St. Luke team’s weekly visit to the General Hospital morgue.
We pull up and Fr. Rick, beside me, bows his head and clenches his eyes tightly in anticipation for a job he will never be used to. We’re about to pull out as many bodies from the morgue’s lockers as we can possibly carry in three trucks.
It’s a devotion the team performs because of their belief in all human dignity – where the dead are lost or forgotten with no one to claim them, Rick and his men retrieve their broken bodies and give them a proper burial.
I’ve joined the team before in this ritual. There’s the narrow, gray hall with the overwhelming smell of death. It’s inescapable and I have to physically grasp my legs to keep them from giving out.