Vatican Corner 04-26-2020

On April 13, 2020, Pope Francis reflected on women’s contributions during the Covid-19 pandemic. He spoke of women who are “doctors, nurses, members of security forces, and prison guards, employees in stores providing basic necessities …, and mothers and sisters who are confined to their homes with their entire family, with children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.” His prayer for those women was that “the Lord might grant them strength, and that our communities might support them together with their families.” There is also another group of women contributing during the pandemic, an army of women religious, all around the world, who are fighting against the coronavirus pandemic. Whether they are qualified nurses helping the sick or cloistered nuns offering up prayers, or sisters assisting the poor and the needy, their most powerful weapons are prayer and love. In Italy the Daughters of St. Camillus run five hospitals found in Rome, Trento, Treviso, Brescia and Cremona, the last three being at the center of the virus crisis in Northern Italy. In an interview Sr. Lancy Ezhupara, the Directory of the Camillo Hospital in Treviso said: “in all our hospitals, nurse nuns are selflessly risking their lives, but the sisters are not afraid… on the contrary! We Daughters of St. Camillus make a fourth vow, in addition to the three classic vows of poverty, obedience and chastity: that of serving the sick even at the cost of our lives. This vow has become even more meaningful today as the Sisters go about their work in isolated hospital wards coping with the Covid-19 infection.” She said that in the Treviso hospital “the difficulties are countless because there is a shortage of equipment.” She said their mission is to continue the ministry of Jesus as healers, and they find comfort in their common fearlessness and readiness to do anything to be close to those who suffer. She said “they are aware that they too can die, but prayer and the intercession of St. Camillus gives us strength.” The coronavirus can spread quickly in a religious order because of their shared community life. In early March at the location of the congregation of the Daughters of St. Camillus in the Alban Hills near Rome, forty of the sisters tested positive for the coronavirus and one was hospitalized on March 20, 2020. At the end of March, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner paid a visit to that congregation as well as another, the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul in a Roman suburb. Both communities have been placed in quarantine and the Cardinal brought Pope Francis’ message of closeness and affection. He also brought fresh milk and yogurt produced by the Vatican’s farm in Castel Gandolfo. Sister Bernadette Rossoni, the general postulator of the Daughters of San Camillus said three of the 40 infected nuns were hospitalized, while the others are not showing serious symptoms and are at home in the convent. She said the sisters remain isolated in their rooms, with meals left outside their doors. “On the bright side, Sr. Bernadette said, the sisters are nurses, so “we are prepared to face health risks and take care of the sick.” To be continued …