COVID-19 has impacted the lives of almost everyone in the world. While some groups have been hit worse than others, it is an especially difficult time for older people who are more at risk for serious health complications from contracting the virus. Sadly, one such group in the United States is older Catholic nuns. Twenty-six nuns from three convents have died from the virus.
Felician Sisters Convent in Michigan
At the Felician Sisters convent in Livonia, Michigan, 13 nuns died after becoming infected with COVID-19. Twelve of the sisters died last spring within a month of when the first one was infected. Another passed away more recently due to lingering complications from the virus. Their ages varied, but all were over 69, putting them firmly in the danger zone for COVID-19-related complications. They took many precautions by cancelling most gatherings. They socially distanced as much as possible, but an outbreak still occurred.
The surviving sisters expressed deep sadness over the inability to hold traditional funerals and Mass services. Instead, very small private funerals were held to honor those who had died. The deaths deeply impacted not only the sisters in the convent but the surrounding community as well. All of the sisters played important roles in the area and some were teachers.
Our Lady of the Angels in Wisconsin
Our Lady of the Angels in Greenfield, Wisconsin, is a convent that provides memory care for older nuns. Changes to the old routine have been difficult for the sisters, many of whom are retired nuns who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and similar conditions. Six of the retired sisters passed away after contracting COVID-19. They were all above the age of 80. The situation at the convent is especially difficult as the retired nuns’ caregivers attempt to give them the proper care they need while also keeping them isolated from one another. These elderly sisters are currently unable to receive visitors, and many have difficulties understanding the situation.
The Maryknoll Sisters in New York
The Maryknoll Sisters headquarters is a large convent in Ossining, New York. Currently home to well over 100 sisters, the convent is continuing to do the best it can at following social distancing guidelines after the death of seven sisters. More are currently infected with the virus and receiving medical treatment. The Maryknoll headquarters employs staff members, some of whom have also been infected. Among others who have contracted the virus are several Catholic priests from a nearby seminary.
After 26 total deaths throughout these three convents, there is a lot of concern as to what the future may hold. The sisters continue to work for safe practices, even with easing restrictions throughout the nation. Sadly, these are likely not the only deaths that will occur in these Catholic communities. The sisters are still fighting to keep outbreaks under control. Some of those who survived initial infection continue to suffer from complications such as continuing lung issues. The situation is very similar to that of nursing and retirement homes throughout the nation. Anywhere large groups of older individuals are concentrated is a potential hotspot for COVID-19-related deaths.
Three convents of Catholic nuns, one in Michigan, one in Wisconsin, and one in New York, have suffered from nearly 30 deaths due to COVID-19 and related complications. The sisters can be at especially high risk as many of them are over the age of 70. Different convents are trying hard to keep the sisters separate from one another in their day-to-day activities. Sadly, they have been unable to hold regular services such as funerals and Mass for those who have passed away due to complications from the virus.