SHOWS: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (APRIL 11, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1.
LIGHTS COMING ON INSIDE FRANCISCAN CHURCH AT EASTER SATURDAY MASS 2.
MONK SHAKING BELLS 3.
FORMER TRIATHLION CHAMPION PARAMEDIC AKOS VANEK SEATED AS MASS PROGRESSES 4.
VANEK LOOKING / PARAMEDIC OVERALL WITH SIGN OF NATIONAL AMBULANCE 5.
MASS UNDERWAY IN EMPTY CHURCH 6.
VANEK HANDS AS PRAYING 7.
VANEK PRAYING AND SAYING CHRISTENING VOW 8.
PRIEST BLESSING HOLY WATER 9.
CHRIST ON CROSS 10.
VANEK BEING CHRISTENED 11.
PHOTO OF VANEK AS TRIATHLON CHAMPION AND CUP IN FOREGROUND 12.
PHOTO OF VANEK AND TRIATHLON TEAM 13.
VANEK POLISHING HIS WORLD CUP 14.
VANEK LOOKING 15.
VANEK POLISHING WORLD CUP 16.
(SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) FORMER TRIATHLION CHAMPION PARAMEDIC AKOS VANEK SAYING: "At first everyone was shocked that I began to do ambulance work after professional triathlon instead of choosing another job and always asked me why.
My only reply is that I have had a calling for this and God will tell me why I am here when I will have a task to save someone and that will be the explanation why I had to be there." 17.
PRIEST TURNING PAGES OF BIBLE 18.
MASS IN PROGRESS 19.
VANEK LOOKING 20.
PAINTINGS ON WALL 21.
VANEK RECEIVING HIS CONFIRMATION 22.
MASS UNDERWAY IN EMPTY CHURCH 23.
VANEK'S AWARD OF EXCELLENCE 24.
(SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) FORMER TRIATHLION CHAMPION PARAMEDIC AKOS VANEK SAYING: "With sports too it is very important to have faith in ourselves.
One needs faith and a strong connection to be able to carry on throughout the long hard road for decades.
A sportsman may not call this communication with God but those how believe call it God." 25.
CHAMPION CUPS AND PHOTO 26.
(SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) FORMER TRIATHLION CHAMPION PARAMEDIC AKOS VANEK SAYING: "Doing sports professionally for so many years has brought certain positive attributes that we can use in other fields of life: perseverance, humility and respect.
And I think it is very important in the ambulance work that we serve patients as they deserve." 27.
VARIOUS OF VANEK HOLDING CONFIRMATION CANDLE 28.
PRIEST ASKING TO PRAY FOR HEALTH AND AMBULANCE WORKERS 29.
ORGANIST PLAYING HALLELUJAH / EMPTY CHURCH STORY: Akos Vanek, a former triathlon World Cup winner, works as a paramedic these days in Budapest taking patients infected with the novel coronavirus to hospital as Hungary fights the crisis, with the epidemic on the rise.
Vanek, who won the 2014 Triathlon World Cup event held in his home country, had hung up his running shoes after doing the triathlon for 22 years as he said he had heard a "calling by God" to work as an ambulance crew.
He joined the emergency services last November and now works day and night dressed up in personal protective gear and mask, resuscitating people if needed and taking coronavirus tests.
His baptism at the Catholic church was planned for Easter, but churches are closed now nationwide to contain the spread of the virus, and masses are held online.
Considering his special calling to help COVID-19 patients, Budapest's Pasaret Franciscan church asked for permission to baptise Vanek in an empty church with only a few Franciscan monks present on Saturday night (April 11).
"My friend, a protestant priest, took the night shift for me on the ambulance car so that I could make it to my baptism," Vanek said before the evening ceremony.
He said being a professional sportsman had required a special belief, bonding and commitment that enabled him to carry on for decades and this was similar to his relationship with God.
"And doing sports professionally for so many years has brought certain positive attributes that we can use in other fields of life: perseverance, humility and respect," he said.
"This, working as ambulance crew is especially important: so that we could do our job to ensure that each and every patient, and injured person gets the best care possible." Pope Francis presided at a Holy Thursday Mass in an empty St.
Peter's Basilica, praising ordinary doctors, nurses and priests who risk their lives helping coronavirus victims as "the saints next door." The Budapest church said in a statement that the special baptism was joining the message sent by Pope Francis, calling attention to the "extraordinary efforts carried out by healthcare workers and the importance of faith." (Production: Krisztina Fenyo)
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