Foley priest celebrates first Mass since COVID recovery

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FOLEY, Ala. (WKRG) — A priest in Foley who recovered from a serious case of COVID-19 celebrates mass for the first time today.  Father Paul Zoghby was back in the pulpit at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church.    Tuesday morning was his first celebration of Mass in five weeks.  It’s a happy return but a hard one.

“It’s the first mass I’ve ever said where I’m thinking to myself ‘I can’t wait to go sit down,'” said Father Paul Zoghby with a laugh and a smile. “I’m not quite there yet.” While hospitalized, he said his illness was so serious it could have gone either way. The lingering reminders of COVID are still with him.

“I’m fatigued, I wake up fatigued, by the afternoon I’m wiped out,” said Zoghby. He noted that this year’s annual retreat for priests was canceled. The coronavirus gave him an unexpected retreat and extra solitude. His first homily message back is ‘watch your tongue’.  

“We have opportunities walking on the earth to get mad at folks get upset with people and just to voice that to other people so I don’t know why the message came so clearly to me in my ‘retreat’ being by myself the Lord spoke to me and said ‘say only good things people need to hear,'” said Father Paul after Mass. A good thing people are happy to see is their pastor in the pulpit.  He’s back at work but not at full strength yet.

“This weekend I’m likely going to call in because I don’t know how I’m going to get through four masses, I might not get through them, so I’m going to get some help for the weekend masses, get some priests in,” said the pastor. Father Paul says he’s grateful for the prayers and prays for everyone dealing with this illness.  He said he learned first hand that this virus is no joke. 

Father Paul Zoghby tested positive for COVID-19 on July first.  He spent a week in isolation at home before being rushed to Thomas Hospital.  He was hospitalized for a week before being discharged.  Father Paul said he’s now tested negative for the virus.  

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