At times it has been difficult to feel this assurance. Covid-19 has had our religious community in its grips for years now. We began in March 2020 to take precautions against the virus, but its invasion was fast and furious.
Thirteen women’s lives have fallen victim to the deadly coronavirus. They were all nuns from one convent located outside of Detroit, Michigan, in the United States.
The nuns who died were equal to one-fifth of the population of the Felician Sisters Convent in Livonia, Michigan, and were aged between 69 and 99.
According to ‘Catholic Review’, the nuns have a collective impact on the community:
They were teachers. A librarian. A director of religious education. A secretary in the Vatican Secretariat of State. The author of a 586-page history of the congregation.
One was an organist. One helped her second-grade class write and perform a commercial for Campbell’s Soup. One was a nurse and led nursing students on mission trips to Haiti.
All of them were members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice, or Felician sisters. They lived together, prayed together, and worked together.
Sister Mary Christopher Moore, Provincial Minister, wrote in a statement, “Sadly, we lost another of our older Sisters due to the residual effects of the coronavirus, which can cause continuing difficulties with other chronic medical conditions. Some of our Sisters who have had COVID-19 are struggling to recover from a variety of effects, including continuing weakness, respiratory issues and more. We ask for your prayers as we support them in their recovery.”
The Global Sisters Report, a nonprofit Catholic news site, stated: “… the 13 Felicians lost in Livonia may be the worst loss of life to a community of women religious since the 1918 influenza pandemic. And in many ways, because of the restrictions in place to prevent a return of the virus, sisters’ grieving has yet to begin.”
The nuns were at high risk from the virus because of their advanced ages and their close contact with each other, which did not change as reports of the coronavirus became national news. Family and friends describe the group as people who “lived together, prayed together, and worked together.”
The sisters certainly are not alone in their suffering.
There have been more than 80,000 coronavirus cases in Michigan and nearly 6,200 deaths. Moreover, about a third of these deaths have been linked to the state’s nursing homes.
And, like many organizations, the sisters have had to take pandemic precautions, such as wearing protective equipment and learning to use more digital communication to maintain their social distance.