In March 2020, Fr. Michael Stack was looking forward to retiring after years of exhausting priestly ministry. He had served for almost a quarter-century as a chaplain in four major hospitals in the archdiocese of Birmingham, England.
He was currently assigned to a parish in Coventry, in central England. In search of respite, he went to visit his sister in Dereham, in the county of Norfolk. But his stay proved to be anything but relaxing.
He arrived at his sister’s with a persistent cough. The next thing he knew, he was in a hospital bed.
“The nursing staff told me that when I arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, I had apparently died in the ambulance and been resuscitated by the two paramedics,” he told CNA in an interview.
“Apparently I got into critical care there and decided to give up again. I died in critical care, so they resuscitated me.”
Stack, a cheerful and self-deprecating 70-year-old, was speaking days before the U.K. passed 100,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest figure in Europe.
The English Cardinal Vincent Nichols described the bleak milestone as “a day of great sadness all over the land.”
“So many people, families, communities, remembering those who have died in these terrible months of the pandemic. Each one is mourned. Each one is to be prayed for,” he said.
Stack told CNA that he could easily have been among those 100,000 people.
“I think that statistically, I should have just been a number. I would have been one of those that would have had a funeral and that would be it,” he said.
Looking back at the day he almost left this world, he said that he had no recollection of being taken to hospital, let alone of “dying” twice.
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