Navigating the pandemic
Shared reflections on the pandemic
The Coordinating Council of DSI has invited sisters around the world to share their experience of the impact of the COVID 19 on their personal and ministerial lives. A number of sisters have responded and their reflections are available on the DSI blogpage (https://www.dsiop.org/blog/) and are also listed here.
This is not only a way to share our experience, but also an opportunity to discover together with our sisters from all over the world, our call as Dominican Sisters at this time, in a changing world.
On All Saints' Day
by sr Justina Kosturkova from Slovakia
The idea of helping during “the COVID 19 testing” was addressed by the Dominican Sisters shortly before the start of its pilot project in Orava and Bardejov. Sisters’ decisions were motivated by daily reports of a shortage of needed health professionals and volunteers. Firstly, two Sisters volunteered during the testing in Bardejov. They were assigned to the testing teams in two villages in the Region of Bardejov – Tarnov and Hrabská. Straight after this experience, another two Sisters joined them and became a part of the testing teams in the village of Petrovany for the next two weekends of wide-ranging testing. They were highly involved and served others as nurses, administrative volunteers or they helped with the preparation of refreshments.
The present Sisters expressed the above mentioned experience in these words: “We have faced the “positive tests” as well as the virus carriers among who was also a pregnant mother, an elderly lady or a big-eyed little schoolgirl…” Despite the fears and harsh reality that the Sisters had encountered, they see this time as a gift: “During the long days of testing, we had experienced friendliness and harmony among those who were formerly strangers to each other, attention to the weak, extraordinary discretion, the ability to focus on work for hours within the team without a break, excellent organization and helpfulness of local authorities, army and police.”
The testing experience of the Sisters took place between two exceptional Holidays. It began shortly before All Saints’ Day and ended on the Feast of All Saints of the Order of Preachers. The Sisters spent this holiday time with the swab collection team. They conclude their memories of an extraordinary experience in these words: “We firmly believe that the saints helped us to manage the long days of testing and we hope that their help and intercessions will obtain us one day the freedom from the COVID pandemic.”
Reflections from Czech Republic
Sr. Bernadeta Praskova OP
Situation in our country with covid is not good at all. Many new cases every day, the number is still increasing. A lot of people in hospitals. There have been and there are going to be a lot of unnecessarily dead. Many of our doctors and nurses have been already ill. Our hospitals and elderly houses miss the staff…
I am covid positive. At the beginning there was a lovely meeting for young sisters about surrender. Some of our sisters attended the meeting and got infected. „Surrender.“ What does it really mean? To stay with you, Lord. In infectiousness, in fever, in sorethroat, in cough, in difficulties with breathing, in tiredness, … in isolation, in loneliness, without Holy Communion, in a „hermitage“, in prayer, in common prayer through phone, in a community through „zoom“, in solitude with you – in communion with YOU, in Your Presence. Thank You, Lord, none of our „positive“ sisters has needed a hospital. We surrender You everybody who is sick, lonely, dying. „Ours were the sufferings, he was bearing, ours the sorrows he was carrying…“ Is 53,4. We surrender you every soul, that really needs Your Presence, Your Love.
I sound very sad, I am sorry. It is not everything only sad. People are working as volunteers, composing songs, praying and worshiping God at home and sharing it… We humbly asky you, pray with us for those who really need it. Thank you so so much.
By Bernadeta Praskova OP (Czech Republic)
Our community’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic
Saint Catherine’s Dominican Convent, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Greetings from Belfast!
For 150 years, sisters from the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Catherine of Siena have lived on the Falls Road, first in St Dominic’s Convent and now in St Catherine’s Dominican Convent. At present, St Catherine’s is home to a community of nine sisters: Sisters Alicia Mooney, Eileen O’Connell, Kathleen Fitzsimons, Leila Newman, Maeliosa Byrne, Majella Fitzpatrick, Noreen Christian, Olive Cooney, and Sheila McKinstry OP. We range in ages from 47 to 91 years.
Invited by the Bishop, Dominican Sisters came to provide education for girls in the rapidly-expanding city that was Belfast of 1870 – a thriving port, an industrial giant and birthplace of the Titanic. Those first sisters could never have anticipated that their descendants would continue to educate girls – from preschool through to university level – through two World Wars and three decades of the Northern Ireland Conflict and into a time of relative peace that followed the Good Friday Agreement. They would not have imagined Belfast as it now is – a vibrant university city and popular tourist destination. Once again, the city faces challenge and uncertainty as it grapples with the consequences and impact of COVID-19 and of Brexit.
While our sisters in Belfast are no longer in schools and most in our community are retired, we continue to maintain strong connections in the community. During this time of restriction and confinement, we are forced to think who we are and what we are called to be and to do in this city at this time. At a recent community meeting, we shared how COVID-19 has impacted on us personally, in terms of our relationships with family and friends and to each other in community, and in connection to our ministry. As sisters shared information about ministry, we named the challenges and opportunities that COVID-19 poses for us and for those we minister to and with. We experienced this meeting as a blessed time, an instance of honest, authentic communication and of deep sharing with one another.
We share with you some of our reflection on how these months of pandemic have affected our ministries.
Sr Alicia is our Prioress. She feels that the pandemic has not impacted very much on her ministry because, as Prioress, her occupation is mostly within the Convent. Nevertheless, she gives more thought to the sisters in our community because some are very restricted in this time. Additionally, she spends more time talking by phone and sending emails and texts because people cannot visit our community. After over 40 years, Sr Alicia is back in her home city. While her ministry as Prioress would allow for her to arrange times to meet her family, the pandemic has prevented this. At the moment, even visiting her sister who is sick in hospital is impossible. In these months of restrictions, Sr Alicia shares: “I value more the power of prayer for my community, family, friends and the whole suffering world in this pandemic.”
Sr Eileen shared on her current ministries and potential future ministry. Until the lockdown in mid-March, Sr Eileen’s main ministry was as Assistant Chaplain in The Catholic Chaplaincy in Queen’s University Belfast. This role was for one academic year only (2019-2020). Due to the pandemic, events connected to some of her other ministries did not take place: a holiday week for 100 children organised by St Vincent de Paul (Sr Eileen volunteers as a leader for this week); Knockadoon Music and Liturgy Week; an annual Religious in Formation Group Conference; walking El Camino with a MSC Father and a group of young adults. Some aspects of these, along with her other commitments, continue to be possible, albeit only online at present. There is a sadness and sense of loss in not being able to meet with the people she ministers to and with. While continuing to connect with and support individuals using virtual means, being present with people is missing. She continues to discern ministry opportunities in Belfast and has been in contact with various individuals and projects. There are many exciting and worthwhile possibilities but becoming involved is not yet feasible. For Sr Eileen now, the challenge of the pandemic lies in patiently waiting for restrictions to lift and doors to open once more.
Sr Kathleen is a family therapist and works with Spirasi (an NGO, founded by the Spiritan Fathers). Spirasi offers a psychological rehabilitation programme for people who have come to Ireland and have experienced torture in their homeland. Sr Kathleen engages in therapy with 15 families. Prior to the pandemic, this took place in Spirasi’s centre in Dublin city and families travelled from all parts of Ireland to attend. Now, these sessions take place using zoom. While it has been an adjustment for both families and therapists, zoom offers advantages too: families don’t face the difficulty of travelling long distances, often using public transport (for some families, this can mean spending almost a full day travelling to and from their therapy session); it can be easier for children to be in their own home and they can move away while parents speak of more sensitive issues. Also by zoom, Sr Kathleen facilitates conversation for a group of 15 mothers who have come to Ireland. Not all speak English but, using interpreters provided by Spirasi, these meetings are an opportunity for these mothers to understand the challenges of parenting in Ireland when it is different from parenting patterns in their homeland.
Sr Lelia is part of numerous groups, largely with a focus on peace and non-violence. While unable to go out in the current situation, she continues to maintain contact with some of these groups. She told us a little about her work with Pax Christi and of that organisation’s work on Christian non-violence, something she sees reflected in the content of Fratelli Tutti. In 2007, Sr Lelia was recipient of the Pax Christi Peace Award.
Since retiring from school, Sr Maeliosa works as a volunteer with Miss Denise Flack, Catholic chaplain for all the Dioceses in Northern Ireland (under the auspices of the all-Ireland National Chaplaincy for Deaf People: NCDP). Pastoral care is very important to the Deaf. Sr Maeliosa says that “They like us to be present with them, accompanying them and interested in them. In some cases, the COVID-19 regulations add to the sense of isolation already felt by many, especially the elderly Deaf. They tell us they miss us if we are not with them.” Sr Maeliosa’s ministry involves preparing and projecting powerpoint for the Deaf at Mass and other liturgies in Belfast, Derry, Armagh, Enniskillen and other parishes in the northern dioceses, preparing and participating in residential retreats and pilgrimages, attending funerals, visiting families etc. All means of communication are used. If the priest can sign, it is a bonus; if not, Denise or another interpreter will translate in sign language. Deaf people will sign readings and prayers – the interpreter will speak for the hearing people. British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) are used depending on the group. Sr Maeliosa shared some of the challenges of working with Deaf people when face-to-face meetings and gatherings are not possible. Operating within the restrictions, her colleague Denise continues to connect with the Deaf through on-line Signed Mass, prayer services and creating ‘virtual’ pilgrimages to places we hope to visit in the future. Sr Maeliosa looks forward to attending Mass and being fully involved in the life of the Deaf community once more and hopes will be soon.
Sr Maeliosa also has responsibility for our community’s archives with expert help from archivist, Miss Patricia Kernahan who hopes to resume work very soon when restrictions permit this.
Sr Majella sees her primary ministry at this time as offering support to the school principals of two local schools: St Dominic’s Grammar School and St Paul’s Primary School. The wisdom gained by many years’ experience of school and of being a principal makes her well-suited to this. She describes her ministry as “keeping them (school principals) sane in all that faces them in their role.” She provides a listening ear and sound advice to assist them as they negotiate various situations with both staff and students and with the families of students. In lockdown conditions, when Sr Majella cannot meet the Principals or go into schools, she supports them by telephone. The pandemic adds a great degree of uncertainty and anxiety in terms of keeping the school community safe and well, navigating continually changing health and safety regulations, planning for when a student or member of staff becomes unwell.
For Sr Noreen, most of the areas of ministry and connection in which she is involved can happen now only by zoom. This works as an alternative in some instances. However, not everything can be adapted to online formats and these are on hold during this time, e.g. monthly Taizé prayer evenings in our convent chapel and twice monthly Centering Prayer gatherings in our library do not take place at the moment. Sr Noreen regularly attended a monthly Centering Prayer group in Dublin. Just recently, this has recommenced but rather than meeting physically, it takes place using zoom. During these months, Noreen reconnected with a long-lost friend, Gail, now living in Australia who is delighted to be been able to join this online prayer morning.
Sr Noreen reflected on the wider impact of this time on us as a community. Living opposite the Royal Victoria Hospital, which is very much involved in the diagnosis and care of COVID patients, is a constant reminder to us of their plight. Being prohibited from showing any loving gesture of care or support feels very alien, inhuman and unchristian yet, unfortunately, this has to be the policy in a situation of pandemic. Prayer, as individuals and as a community, is the only loving avenue available to us and we walk it many times daily.
Sr Olive does much to assist people who are homeless or rough sleeping in Belfast. Until the lockdown, she spent a full day, 8am to 4pm, in the Welcome Organisation, a Belfast charity which offers shelter, food and support to the homeless and vulnerable. Sr Olive ran the laundry, washing, drying and folding the clothes of those who came to the centre – she lives this maxim: “if I can do anything, I will do it the right way and the best way.” Twice, Sr Olive has been awarded the Person of the Year Award for her dedication to those who are homeless and her care for them. When the pandemic struck, the Welcome Organisation was closed. Now it has reopened, but only for a short time each day and to limited numbers. While Sr Olive cannot work in the laundry at present, she continues to minister to those she knows as a result of being there – when she meets them in the city, she talks with them and goes with them to a café so that they can choose what they would like to eat before she buys it for them. Yet, she misses her time in the Welcome Organisation and feels a real sadness at the limits that COVID places on her contact with the people who attend there. Additionally, Sr Olive helps two pensioners by doing their shopping for them, once or twice a week and delivering it to them. She has gifted her time and friendship to these two individuals for over 40 years now, and continues to do this throughout these months. Each afternoon during lockdown, Sr Olive prayed – over the phone – with a person who is sick and confined to their home.
Each day, Sr Sheila visits Clare, an older lady who lives alone and shops for items for her. Present restrictions mean that, now, Sr Sheila cannot enter Clare’s home but must instead stand at the door. Even so, Sr Sheila’s daily call means that Clare has someone to talk to and knows she can get food and medicine that she needs.
One sister reminded us that we have too our ministry in our community, to one another, something that is always part of our life but perhaps is even more important during this time. We need to be mindful of one another and of how each one is and to be aware that this time has impacted us all differently. It is important that we reflect on how can we listen to each other and know how our sisters really are.
Compiled by: Sr Eileen O’Connell OP, Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Catherine of Siena
CORONAVIRUS 2020: LIGHTS AND SHADOWS: A CALL TO REINVENT
Dominicans of the Teaching of the I.C.
March 13, 2020. And EVERYTHING stopped.
The activities of the schools, the gyms, the assistance centers, the cultural and recreational activities, the cinemas, the bars, the theaters, the commercial spaces, the churches, almost everything, were stopped. Plans, personal projects, schedules, medical appointments, purchases, improvement works and a long list in personal agendas were left on the waiting list.
But, LIFE DID NOT STOP. We continue to live and embrace what each new day brought us. One of the novelties was the use of a new vocabulary: pandemic, confinement, state of alarm, gloves, masks, coronavirus, hand cleaning hygiene, disinfection, social distance, reduction of groups of people, no displacements, fines, protocols, …
Our minds were opened to this vocabulary and its meaning. Also to the reorganization of our spaces of coexistence, schedules and form of work and free time and so many plans and mental structures became obsolete … And to think that we as nuns always spoke of novelty and we have discovered so many ties … And an invisible corona virus arrived that has been the cause of many shadows in our lives and has given them an unrecognizable turn. Now after a few weeks we discover that it has been a time of confinement to REINVENT OURSELVES from all congregational, community, ecclesial and mission spheres.
First of all, it would be nice to talk about the SHADOWS that the virus has caused: The first shadow was the sudden death of an 89-year-old sister on March 26. She was taken to the hospital for a fall the night before. The words of the Gospel of Matthew come to mind (24,42-43) “Watch because you do not know what day your Lord will come … if the owner of the house knew what time of night the thief would come, he would be in candle… ”Thus the fall was presented. On the same day, another sister went to undergo tests and she was admitted until April 23. Leaving home alone and with pain in her soul when she was marching in the ambulance was a thorn in our hearts. At the same time in the community we had two sisters confined and having a follow-up from the Primary Care Center of the Social Security since March 18 and 21.
And I wonder and we wonder: Who brought the CORONAVIRUS to Vallirana? How did it get there? If we are a small and insignificant town that almost nobody knows! Another very black shadow appeared on the horizon: not being able to give a Christian burial to the body of our dead sister. On Sunday the 29th we made a simple prayer that we sent to the nearby communities and people, remembering the appointed time for her cremation. Like so many other religious communities and families, we live very closely an incomprehensible and inhumane protocol.
The third shadow appeared in an underhanded and silent way in two of the older sisters affected by the death of the deceased sister: Discouragement, a slight feeling of depression and weakening of physical strength. The days went by and little by little the situation was overcome thanks to their effort and warmth, affection, the closeness of the sisters and the strength of prayer and care for the spiritual life. The fourth shadow was attending to the confined sisters with care, affection and communicating thanks to the mobile.
And the LIGHTS came. The closeness and continuous support of the Prioress General and all the material and guidance aids that she sent us. The expressions of affection from so many people who knew the deceased sister, teachers, former students, priests, sisters and communities. The generosity of some families who sent us prepared food, protection materials against the virus, services of the people from Social Services and Civil Protection, and the telephone calls that were continuous for several days. A great light was provided by a document from the URC “GUIDE FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL ATTENTION DURING THE TIME OF QUARANTINE IN THE RELIGIOUS AND PRIESTLY LIFE OF UNINPSI de Comillas”. In the different situations that the document presented and the feelings expressed, they helped us to identify ourselves and to overcome the situation we were experiencing. Other documents and reflections of the URC. The protection of the martyred sisters Mª Rosa Adrover and Mª Carmen Zaragoza. On April 23, our hospitalized sister returned home after being discharged. It was a great joy to re-experience the closeness of a sister who had spent the hospitalization completely alone. In the hospital she could only have one means of communicating with the sisters: mobile.
These lights have encouraged us to REINVEST: Break the usual schedules and make new ones. Live the Eucharist and religious services.gious via TV or radio. Reinventing the experience of spirituality by embracing everything that the media offered us. Holy Week followed through the services from Rome. Go to Easter from the experience of death. Discover in the psalms of each day the Word of God who spoke to us in the midst of the pandemic with consoling words. To experience the richness of the community among those present and the audience. Do community reading of various documents sent by the URC throughout this time. Learn about various solidarity and aid initiatives. Support the initiative of the Grup de Treball Stable de Religions (GTER) that have created a space with messages and prayers to accompany in case of bereavement, illness or suffering due to the Covid-19 crisis. The confessions that are part of the Interreligious Council of Catalonia have made videos and other spiritual proposals to accompany them in times of difficulty and suffering.
Many more lights have emerged amid this pandemic. These are just a brief example close to the community. We can add two new lights: One on the 29th celebration of our sister Santa Catalina, the two confined Sisters were discharged. Sunday the 3rd was a day of celebration and to celebrate the fraternity again all together. The second today, May 5, at 12:30 p.m. the ashes of our deceased sister arrive. The seven sisters of the community welcome them at the gate and we go in procession to the chapel to deposit them on the altar. We do a few minutes of contemplation and say a simple prayer and some songs. I want to end this reflection with some verses from the Lauds psalms of May 4, 2020. They fill us with light, strength and hope. “I will guide them along paths they do not know, before them I will turn the darkness into light the rugged into the plain” Isaiah 42:16. “Give us joy for the days in which you afflicted us, for the years in which we suffered misfortunes, that your children see your action. … May the goodness of the Lord come down to us and make the works of our hands prosperous ”Psalm 89
THE GIFT OF YEARS PARTY in time of coronavirus
Dominicans of the Teaching of the I.C.
In the elderly communities of our Congregation we have established a feast that we call the Gift of Years, the fourth Sunday of Easter, Feast of the Good Shepherd.
We are a community of elders with 11 sisters and an average age of 80 years, the youngest 74 years and we are living this time of confinement well, without negative experiences … The Summa Humanitate Foundation serves us in the form of a Shared Mission and from the On the first day of quarantine, they have given us many guidelines that are repeated periodically, on how to act …, a lot of separation in common places, a lot of hygiene, daily disinfection of all rooms etc … no one going out or entering the house …
In one of these orientation and information emails, they encouraged us to take care of the sisters’ state of mind, prevent depression, etc … In the midst of the pain and desolation that society is experiencing, and we with it, we have encouraged ourselves to celebrate this feast in which we give thanks to God for the years of life that he has granted us, for the graces that we have received as a gift. , and for being alive, ready for this experience to make us be born again as Jesus told Nicodemus.
It has been a different party, without being able to invite anyone, without a special Eucharist, but our prayer has been very heartfelt and deep.
In the morning, after waking up to music, we have found by surprise an ornament on our doors each with its name. We begin the prayer of Lauds with the hymn “The Good Shepherd who died to give us life has risen, we thank you Lord, for this flowery Easter in which YOUR LOVE triumphed.” At the time of the petitions, we express prayers for the victims of the pandemic and especially for older people like us who are suffering from this disease. Also for those who are giving their lives in such careful attention. Then, the playful and festive part, the lottery game, well separated in the spaces – yes -, a film very appropriate for the taste of the sisters, a special snack-dinner …
A different day in the middle of the quarantine (we also celebrate the feast of Santa Catalina connected online with sisters and laity of our community in Pamplona). From here we have left renewed, wanting to be more grateful to the sisters, to the people who care for us, to give importance to what is fundamental and to be close to those who suffer crises and their consequences.
On behalf of the Santa Catalina de Pamplona community Mª Sagrario Díaz Dominicans of the Teaching of the I.C.
Community of Tomelloso (Ciudad Real), Dominicas de la Enseñanza de la I.C.
The “state of alarm” due to the coronavirus, meant for us a sudden stop in our daily activities. As a Community we feel fear, concern and great concern, since Tomelloso has suffered a severe blow during this health crisis, to the point of being classified as “the Wuhan of La Mancha. It had a great resonance at the national level; We were learning from the media the seriousness of the situation. Through the local media, we were getting information about some members of families very close to the Community who were hospitalized or who had died. We were very affected.
As the confinement was prolonged, at the Parish level, the online catechesis groups continued. The community has been accompanying the sick and elderly who were accompanied by telephone throughout the year. It is about accompanying the loneliness and suffering caused by the virus. Accompany from the good news of the Gospel of Jesus, source of hope and full life. In this time of confinement, we have continued, from inter-parish Caritas, to welcome and monitor disadvantaged and at-risk families. We have incorporated new families as a result of the new unemployment situation, ERTES…. Welcome and accompany in a creative way, using new technologies (videoconference….)
After the stress of the first days, we have taken advantage of this time for reflection, prayer, reading interesting books … From the parish it has continued, even training has been intensified through videos, talks … We have had the opportunity to listen to our bishop, to professors of the Institute of Theology “Beato Estenaga” of Ciudad Real. All this helped by the telematic means.
In this time of suffering and uncertainty we have rediscovered our vulnerability and dependence… We want to thank so many people who in this difficult situation have been able to give their best.
In the new stage that is beginning, perhaps more complicated than the previous one, we will have to be close to the reality of the people with our support, listening and hope. We know that God walks by our side.
THE WORLD HAS STOPPED
Maeve Mc Mahon O.P.
The world has stopped.
Travel, entertainment, sports:
all have stopped.
Public worship has entered a barren Lent; a great fast.
No congregations at Holy Week and Easter Mass;
lubricants of the heart and spirit spent.
We now exist in social isolation’s
Lockdown. Locked out
from normal activities’ consolation.
Stopped in our tracks by a pandemic
that cancels our projects and plans.
Forced to stand still
to rediscover the here and now;
the present where God invites us in.
God is with us. God’s presence
fills the universe; the present moment.
Our hearts and spirits unite now
in virtual reality.
In the Eye of the Storm
Sr Chiara Mary Tessaris, English Dominican Congregation of St Catherine of Siena (Cambridge)
I see my experience of lockdown as one good example of how God is able to write straight on crocked lines.
When lockdown started in the UK in late March 2020, I was at the end of the last term of my two-year noviciate and I was engaged in pastoral placements at St Dominic’s School, a Sixth Form College and at the Catholic Chaplaincy for London’s Universities. Needless to say, I was saddened by the abrupt way in which my apostolate came to an end, as I was greatly enjoying working with such a diverse student population. Co-teaching General Religious Studies in a multiethnic and multiconfessional school was a very challenging and rewarding experience. Some of my colleagues became good friends and lockdown has only contributed to bringing us closer through both technology and prayer. Many of them shared with me that as their lives were abruptly slowed down, they started to reconsider their real priorities, one of which is friendship, a gift we often neglect to cherish when our busy lives take over and free time is a luxury.
My passion for the apostolate notwithstanding, I have to admit that it also entailed investing a great deal of energy and travelling, often at the expenses of the more contemplative dimension of the Dominican charism. I am very grateful to have experienced so early in my religious life the struggle to keep the balance between the contemplative and the active dimension of our vocation. Lockdown came to me as a welcome opportunity for a time of personal reflection and deep prayer, which I really needed at that stage of my noviciate. I found refreshing even the unusual silence that suddenly fell on the city as traffic and public transport almost completely halted.
As far as the apostolate was concerned, paradoxically as it may sound, the distance that the lockdown put between the university students and me only contributed to bringing us close to one another and deepened our commitment to sharing our faith and friendship in Christ. Before lockdown, we discussed the possibility to set up another Faith Study group in addition to the one we were already running, but the hectic pace of life that the students were leading at that time made it difficult to translate our plans into reality. After Easter, the students suggested that we resumed meeting at least “virtually” on Zoom and this led us to set up a new Faith Study group that kept us going through the summer and that is still running today.
In the meantime, my main concern was for my family in Italy and especially for my brother, who lives near Bergamo, one of the most affected areas at the time of the outbreak of the pandemic. I will hardly forget the images of the over 33 military lorries carrying the coffins of the many victims that were soon to be given a proper and respectful burial outside Bergamo. I never saw as clearly as in those days that we really are in God’s hands. Faith in Him gave me peace.
The lockdown also brought us closer as a religious community. Finding ourselves suddenly deprived of our apostolate inevitably gave us more time to spend together and I found this very positive as it enabled us to live through these challenging circumstances together as a community, sharing our personal fears and struggles. We are also able to discuss new ways to balance our community time together with the inevitable need also for personal space and solitude. Lockdown has also challenged us to rethink our apostolate and to find new ways to reaching out to people.
It is somehow paradoxical that in times of social distancing and limited freedom of movement we find ourselves growing increasingly closer to one another across borders and time.
Sharing our experience
Sr. Macu S.
It is going through a whole process where one does not manage to see the true dimension of what was beginning to happen. It was only when the state of alarm and confinement arrived that I realized that we would celebrate Lent as never before in my life. I accepted this situation and tried to live trying to discover what God wanted to say to us because he without a doubt was speaking to us.
In all these days I have reflected a lot on the personal, on the community and on all other aspects of life. Personally, how much time and energy devoted to things that are not important or help to achieve that personal fulfillment to which I aspire. Things that would be difficult for me to do without and are not necessary. A selection is imposed to keep what is essential in my condition as a religious.
At the community level, each one in her own style and manner, we have been very close, we have respected each other, we have known each other better by supporting each other. We have shared as a community what we were living and how, I think it has favored the union between us. I have felt like never part of humanity. It has hurt my soul to know the great dramas that so many people and for various reasons live. Feeling the impotence of not being able to accompany, to relieve has been very hard for me. But at the same time I have great hope that when this happens and we calm down, we will be different, better, understanding, and supportive. I have full confidence that it will.
Reflections from the confinement of my house in Vallecas
Mª Jesús Fdez. Llamera, Community of Vallecas- Madrid, Dominicas de la Enseñanza de la I.C.
During this pandemic, I realized that I was living distracted from a lot of chores that I thought were essential; But a tiny virus “coronavirus” brought me back to the reality of who I am and gave me the opportunity to stop, to stop in my tracks. And a wonderful time was born, the time to look more inward, toward the truth of all that I am and what I was doing. Also look at my closest environment: sisters, family, neighborhood.
Look at humanity, especially suffering humanity, which is many, many: those who have left us, those who have lost their loved ones, migrants without resources, the unemployed, the homeless, the … Look with hope, with complicity, with commitment, with involvement. To look with compassion at a society that believed itself to be the owner of the world, of science, of technology and has realized that an invisible virus has made it aware of its fragility, its vulnerability, its truth and has been able to verify that even planet earth is delighted by our absence.
Hopefully we learn from what we have experienced and do not return to neoliberalism and ferocious consumerism.
Hopefully we contribute to the solution of this pandemic with more solidarity and less arrogance. May we be able to thank all the citizens who have been at the foot of the canyon day by day without rest, risking their lives minute by minute for others.
May our creativity give birth to a new way of being in the world, much more humane and egalitarian.
WE ARE FAMILY
Our school's experience Ntra. Mrs. del Rosario Fesd Beaterio
At the beginning of the course, nothing foreshadowed the turnaround that our lives were going to take at the end of the second term. The work in the classrooms, the laughter in the corridors and the bustle of the courtyard, would give way in the middle of March to a silent, empty and sad school. Nervousness, uncertainty and fears made their appearance in our Educational Community, but we faced them as a big family.
If our families, students, teachers or administration and services staff are asked to define our school with a single word, we will all say that we are a FAMILY. Our feeling and our living is developed daily in educational work as such. We are the Beguinage family. Actually the name of our school is Our Lady of Rosario Fesd, but throughout Jerez we are known as the Beaterio. Our entire Educational Community fills us with pride in this term, because it transports us to our roots. The name comes from one of the streets that borders the center, but it goes much further, since it takes it in turn from the work of a great woman, María Antonia de Jesús Tirado, the first founder of a Beguinage of Dominican sisters. in the 19th century that would later give rise to the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and whose work was the education of the poorest girls in Jerez of its time. All of us are beneficiaries and heirs of this great educational work in our center.
We are a FAMILY whose heart beats in black and white, following the example of our Founder Mª Antonia de Jesús Tirado and Santo Domingo de Guzmán. We have a great Mother, the Virgin of the Rosary and therefore, the initial fears and fears at the beginning of this pandemic, dissipated under her protection and protection and we have been able to support and encourage each other as great families do.
It’s amazing how we have readjusted the entire educational process without major problems. Teachers, students and families in constant communication, we have been able to learn and grow in every way and most importantly, we have done it TOGETHER.
Despite the confinement, we have felt more united, communicated and supported than ever. Our heart has beat in a constant rhythm and in unison as we never imagined it could. Our ties have been strengthened and our affection has increased more if possible.
We miss our meetings in the classrooms, our parties at school (because like all families, we celebrate everything with parties), our direct contacts … We fervently want and wish to be able to meet again, hug and kiss, because love needs to express itself, but while that happy moment arrives, when nostalgia and melancholy appear, we turn to our heart in which we are and we feel UNITED AS A GREAT EDUCATIONAL COMMUNITY, A GREAT FAMILY.
Questions related to COVID
Dominican sisters of Bethany – Venlo
COVID and Parish life/community life
As a congregation in several countries, the experiences are different.Both in the Netherlands and in Germany, Parish life was and is still very restricted. Eucharist was not possible for a long time, and too many people got used to watching the Mass on TV. This will have large consequences for the future, but it is too early to reflect on this.
The pandemic situation is far away from being over. In the Netherlands, again services are limited to 30 participants which make it nearly impossible to celebrate together. The situation is not clear, and the Parish priests are reflecting now whether it will be possible to celebrate Christmas or not. After all this, we have to see whether anything of Parish life will be left.
COVID and quarantine
Community life was very difficult especially in the Netherlands where many sisters live in nursing homes. There, they were strictly isolated, could not leave their rooms or go out, and those outside of the nursing houses were not allowed to visit the sisters inside. This cost many sisters a lot of trouble, mentally and physically, especially because this generation of elderly sisters is not very skilled in the new media. Many sisters have and had to live in a way they never imagined and they never wanted.
At the same time, the solidarity with people outside the community was and is strong, and the personal prayer life has a new dimension. Someone once said: “Being aged is the noviciate of heaven. So many sisters again had the chance to live their noviciate – with the experience of 50, 60 or even 75 years of religious life…
Sister Sara Böhmer OP, General Secretary Dominican Sisters of Bethany Venlo
CONCERN WITH A HAPPY ENDING
Sister Mª Teresa López Aguilar (Santo Domingo Congregation)
On March 16, 2020 I began with abdominal discomfort and pain that were increasing. A doctor and nurse from 061 treated me at home, but it was not possible, the pain increased. In the late evening an ambulance took me to the Hospital Santa Ana de Motril, alone with the ambulance manager who accompanied me to the emergency room, since given the situation of the pandemic, no sister could accompany me. I arrived with very strong pain despite the painkillers they had given me. They treated me very well and I was under observation, then they transferred me to the plant and there they controlled me. After three days they tell me that they are discharging me due to the pandemic situation, but it was not like that.
New information: that they have to take me to Granada to the Vithas Hospital where I stayed until March 31, that they transfer me to the San Cecilio Hospital for ERCP. The intervention was quick and I hardly knew. Blessed be God! They were a few days of trial for me, but they took great care of me and I want you to help me thank God and all the Social Security staff for their wonderful professional treatment, concern and affection.
In those days I only felt that I did not see my sisters since given the confinement situation it was not possible. We communicated by phone several times a day (and many more times to Sister Manuela and my nieces) also with the doctors and nurses who informed them. It was 19 hard days; but I offered them to the Lord. I heard the Holy Father’s Eucharist on TV and with the rosary I felt at peace. Finally, on April 3, these days of anguish and loneliness ended and they gave me the great news of the medical discharge and the announcement that an ambulance was taking me back home where the sisters were waiting for me. What a joy despite not being able to give us a hug!
Completely convinced that God gives us a hundredfold. I never tire of thanking you daily.
The Community of Tetuán, Madrid, in Home Confinement
The Community began Lent by calling at home a prayer on Mondays regarding the Encyclical “Laudato Sí” by Pope Francis. The first sentence was on March 2, and a good group of people came, the same on the 9th. But as of March 11, which arises, suddenly, in Spain the confinement due to the “State of Alarm” due to the Covid-19, the three sisters who were at home continue with our programming.
We have wanted to live this situation without losing sight of the meaning of the liturgical times that were presented and the reality that occurred. So we decided to pray with the Stations of the Cross, on Fridays, after “the applause”. We have encouraged it with different themes, including the coronavirus and the proposal of Pope Francis. Since we live in a flat, and in the oratory there is no Stations of the Cross, for reasons of space, we made a “homemade” one: on pieces of paper we placed a small wooden cross, with its description and the order that corresponds to each season, and we place it throughout the house. Thus, we made the route of the Stations of the Cross. Holy Week has arrived, and we have followed the celebrations broadcast by the different media, but giving them our particular community touch. Thus, we celebrate Palm Sunday with some bouquets made at home. On Holy Wednesday we saw “33 El Musical”, since they opened it so that whoever wanted could enjoy it, and we did.
On Holy Thursday, we celebrated the services and then we had our “Jewish dinner” in which there was no lack of its own ritual and reminder, and to conclude this day, the “Holy Hour” in the chapel, with the decoration of this day.
On Good Friday, after the services, we were able to have an “Adoration of the Cross” in our chapel, a common prayer in which later, each one prolonged this time of prayer as much as she wanted.
On Holy Saturday, we had marked it as a “day of silence and prayer” in order to be able to introduce ourselves in this way, in the liturgical feeling of this day, while waiting for the Resurrection.
At the Easter Vigil, after the celebration transmitted, with the joy of the Resurrection of the Lord !!!, we had our festive Easter dinner !! Which did not lack emotion or detail, because there were even little surprise details !!: a rabbit and some Easter eggs, all made of chocolate, perfectly decorated for the occasion. And so we partied, long and full of emotion.
Easter Sunday. We follow the liturgy from the Vatican, receiving the blessing “Urbi et Orbi”, to continue later, with a festive meal: Easter Paella !!
We all believe that “despite” or “thanks to” confinement and state of alarm, we have lived a very different and unexpected Lent and Easter, which has left such a special mark that we will take time to forget.
AN INTENSE MONTH NEXT TO COVID 19
voluntary medical experience
It is the first time that I work as a doctor in Spain. When I heard every day on the news: so many infected, so many deceased, infected doctors, overwhelmed health personnel… my heart leapt inside me. How can they not call me if I had sent my resume to the medical college as a volunteer? Finally one day the phone rang…. Great news that filled me with joy, the next day I had to report to the emergency department at a Madrid hospital. I left early in the morning thinking that it was to give me the program and there was such a need… .. that I returned home at 8 at night.
This is how it has been this month that I have volunteered. An immense job, an unlimited schedule, but a great satisfaction to be able to do this service. During these days I have lived many experiences. Much pain shared with the patients due to the severity in which they arrived, the respiratory difficulty they presented that distressed them, the loneliness they felt, because they had to enter alone. Much suffering of the relatives, for not being able to be close, for not being able to have affectionate gestures, for saying goodbye to them that they did not know if it was for a few days or for a lifetime. Very strong, very hard situations experienced.
Apart from consulting, examining, diagnosing patients and giving them the necessary treatment, the most beautiful thing has been having been able to be close to them and their families, act as an intermediary, be in contact with relatives to transmit faith, hope, security. , serenity. A word of encouragement, a handshake, (even with gloves), a look full of tenderness, a smile although hidden under the mask was the only thing I could give them, and through this transmit peace, transmit God … these moments of vulnerability people are so receptive, so “hungry” … Really how much is transmitted, but also how much you receive !!! Your insides shake when you see so many sad scenes, when you hear so much crying, but how much joy you experience when you are discharged, when you say everything is fine, you go home, keep taking care of yourself, you are cured … how much happiness you feel when the family says thank you With tears in her eyes, she wishes you much encouragement and brings you a chocolate bar to restore strength.
Fond moments that I will never forget, people who have been deeply engraved in my mind and in my heart, families that I keep in touch with and when everything is over… we will meet again. A very special experience for which I thank God.
How has the quarantine and isolation affected you?
Juana María. DMSF
For me it has been an opportunity. I say an opportunity because I have taken the opportunity to read. I have read books by Spanish and foreign writers that I was very interested in deepening. The works, not complete, of German Hesse. With this author I have learned a lot, not only from his time, but also from his disturbing spiritual situation. From Galdós, whose centenary of his death we celebrate, 5 volumes of the national episodes. With Lamet I have enjoyed the life of Saint John of the Cross, a wonderful biography and a wonderful description of the time. In addition to reading, I have taken the opportunity to pray, hours of silence, of deepening in the fragility of life, in the transitory and fleeting of everything … At no time have I felt fear in the face of the circumstances that we have had to live in and I have not considered the possibility of getting sick at all … I believe that it has been and is being a great opportunity. A great opportunity to stop, to think, to be calm.
Yes, I was worried about the situation of so many people who died, so many people who suffered, that so many people who gave their lives helping those who were in an extreme situation … I have been impressed by the impact this situation has had on both life and in job losses … This, which has also occurred in similar situations in other times, has now become more global and stronger, with another dimension …
So I give thanks for this new opportunity in life, for this stage, which we hope will not last, so that we can all enjoy the well-being of each day.
DELAYS OF AN EXPERIENCE
H. MVSU Dominicas de la Anunciata
At the bottom of the heart there are many mixed feelings, many shared learnings (I don’t know if all that this situation teaches), there has been reflection, prayer, indignation, admiration…. As in each of our communities.
We have prayed, we have celebrated the Resurrection of the Lord and this Easter time in confinement, we have felt in these days how the Lord’s words, “I will always be with you” have somehow come true in so many institutions and people who have dedicated time and resources to help with the multiple needs that arose.
For all of us, D.A. has been a great concern for the older sisters that we have here and a Thank you! Because until now the virus “passed by” through each of the four residences that we have in Spain, of course there are older sisters not only in residences … and the concern in the end is for all.
The general council and provincial councils have been placed by the virus in the places that the pandemic has marked, by no means the programmed ones and thus we have released, which on the other hand is nothing new, online advice. The community has suffered for all those weaker sectors of society that do not have, neither the houses that appear on television to confine themselves, nor musical devices and instruments to alleviate those long and gray days and we have really suffered for them . And we have verified our visible “riches” in this confinement and that they are translated into wide spaces, in our case, that have allowed us to move and stretch our “joints” although some still find them a bit small.
As we are in front of the Santa Elena Clinic, we have been quite overwhelmed and saddened by how its landscape has changed. Instead of calm patients who went to external visits, ambulances that, at any time, queue to take the sick or to remove the deceased. But in that same place we have also laughed, applauded, thanked and sung with the toilets at the daily appointment. And every day the “I will resist” supported our strength.
A lesson that, as much as we already knew, the coronavirus has shown us in all its harshness. The great powers have trembled helplessly before a microscopic particle. Our capitalist and consumerist system is leaking, we have felt how easily everything that we had conquered with so much fatigue can disappear. From this lesson, if it is learned, something new can be born, God willing. Let us offer our collaboration. Our planet earth will also wonder if at the end of this we will have learned something or will it look a little skeptical?
THE STORY OF A CONFINEMENT
Written by SEDEP Mª del Prado Garrido DSS
When on March 14 we were warned that the next day a “state of alarm” would begin, nothing made us predict the events that would happen from that moment.
With LENT just begun, we immersed ourselves in it thinking that we had all the necessary conditions in our favor, to overcome with note these forty days of stay with Jesus in the desert, and at the same time, put into practice the message of our Pope Francis : “Lent is the time to rediscover the path of life” (3-6-2019)
And boy did it happen! We began to realize that this novel situation was serious. The number of infected was evolving dizzyingly, hospitals were filled with patients in need of respirators for their lungs, the ICUs were overcrowded, health personnel increased in number, but also in humanity and volunteering, especially in VOCATION. His courage and dedication were the most valuable weapons to meet each patient who required his attention. The death toll began to impress us more every day.
Given this panorama, it was indisputable to think that we were entering the dry and arid land of the Judean desert, where the human being experiences his own vulnerability and is dispossessing of all his things, to get closer to God. Somehow, all this maelstrom of events invited us to gratefully meditate on the miracle of existing and the gifts that we receive daily.
However, we had to keep walking. Tiredness, worry, ……… .we could not turn them into obstacles that would diminish our strength, but quite the opposite, this experience of the road was preparing us to discover “a new reality”, to look for alternatives to the lifestyle that we had led previously, to live from the insecurity of not knowing how this situation will be solved and to put aside doubt and uncertainty to let ourselves be instructed by the MASTER. We were going up to Jerusalem. Jesus marched ahead of us, but we were so surprised by his words that we were unable to understand everything he wanted to say to us. He only had to repeat with the psalmist: “Lord, teach me your ways, instruct me in your paths”
We discovered that God’s ways were not ours. And despite this misunderstanding, it was inevitable to think of all the people, who in those moments would be crowding around Him to touch His mantle and be healed. They needed to hear a word, a breath of life that offered them confidence, calm, tranquility, peace, mercy and love.
The need to glimpse a great light on the path that we still had to do, required us to relegate to other positions the feeling of loneliness that isolation had created for us, along with the uneasiness of not being able to see our loved ones and the sadness of having than to “quickly fire” family and friends. All of this had turned into heavy stones difficult to move.
But it was time to establish ourselves on the firm rock of our faith and go to remove the slab, which hindered us from advancing in the search for a new path, in the longed-for “new normal”. We had to let the glow of hope, the Risen Jesus stir our hearts and make everything new. We were entering another stage of this long process, perhaps tired and expectant about the news that we are going to find, but our mission is to integrate ourselves into it without losing serenity, nor inner harmony and even less feeling accompanied by Jesus, who he has been our traveling companion in this time of confinement.
It is simply to allow ourselves to be held by one hand by Jesus and the other by Mary. Thus, in this way, we can walk with the certainty that in this test we are not going alone.
Mª del Prado Garrido DSS
DSE Covid-19 survey
By Sr. Mette Andrésen from the Sta Katarinahjemmet community in Oslo
In order to broaden my personal reflection a bit on the impact of Covid-19, I consulted with some members of a Bible group that I lead. These are adult women; married or widowed, therefore with a different experience than mine. But we all agreed that coming together around the Word of God has helped us during this difficult time. I then take the starting point in this common experience.
The restrictions taken by the Norwegian government at the start of the pandemic have been respected by most citizens and the number of infected people and deaths has remained relatively low. Admittedly, the younger ones have had less patience which has contributed to an increase in the number of infected for some time, but so far the hospitals have not been saturated.
For the members of the group, the time of the confinement prescribed at the very beginning was the most difficult because the fact of not being able to go out and to reunite with family weighed on each one. In addition, the masses were only accessible via the internet. Currently we can accommodate a certain number of faithful but it is necessary to register in advance for the Sunday celebration.
On the other hand, in community we have been privileged having been able to maintain the Eucharistic offices and celebrations.
For all of us, the fact of not being able to do projects like eg. going abroad remains binding because we do not know when it will be possible again. For the moment, the government advises against travel that is not strictly necessary. Certainly many of us had the opportunity to rediscover our beautiful country this summer, but I admit that I am suffering from not being able to go elsewhere. The call to avoid close contact is also difficult for all and especially for them. grandparents who are deprived of seeing their grandchildren as before. An important mission for me during this time was the concern to contact by phone or by email people whom I knew to be sick or isolated.
In addition, our priority has been to take into consideration the students domiciled with us and who were immediately taken care of at the slightest symptom of the virus and then tested by the medical profession.
In conclusion, I join the group by saying that the consolation found in the common Bible reading has helped us to live this situation, because these meetings are a place to talk about our fears, our doubts, but also our confidence in one. God with us.
Feedback on our experiences regarding COVID 19
What impact has COVID 19 had on you personally, in terms of your relationships with your family, members of the community, with colleagues?
We sisters have limited contact with people outside our mother house to phone calls or emails.
Family, guests: Planned holidays and / or visits have been canceled or postponed. Individual sisters are concerned about their relatives, who belong to the risk groups.
Nursing ward: Three sisters made contact with the nurses in need of care. The sisters with dementia needed particularly attentive accompaniment and care as part of the protective measures.
During the last few months three sisters have died in the care unit (due to age). The sisters outside the nursing ward could not visit and accompany them in the usual way. It was and still is a major limitation that we want to accept as a sad consequence.
Rest of the community: All in all, we experienced a great willingness from the sisters to support the protective measures. Sometimes it was difficult to reschedule important appointments that were medically indicated. A regular doctor’s visit to the nursing ward could take place. A physiotherapist came to the monastery for urgent treatment.
The fear of quarantine in the event of an infection with COVID 19 is still a major concern of the employees and nurses responsible for the health service. It causes concern, even anxiety, because depending on the nurses’ group in which the infection occurs, about 20 sisters in the care unit or about 70 sisters in the rest of the motherhouse would be affected by the quarantine.
How has the pandemic affected your experience with God and your understanding of God’s presence?
On March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph, we deliberately entrusted ourselves to the intercession of St. Joseph. From March 20th until Pentecost we celebrated the Eucharist without communion. As a community and as individual sisters, we became more aware of the constant presence of Jesus Christ among us. We also experienced more and more being spoken to in the service by the word of God. At the beginning of the Corona period, the sisters spontaneously expressed their desire to pray the rosary more together, which we prompted immediately: trust in guidance and protection God has been strengthened. The sisters have accompanied the suffering people all over the world with great concern, empathy and participation, as well as with prayer. There were / are occasional differences of opinion between sisters / staff and other sisters regarding the strict implementation of protective measures: some question individual protective measures in order to build on trust in God’s protection and others interpret this attitude as reckless.
Ilanz Dominican Sisters, Sr. Annemarie Müller, Priority General.
Klosterweg 16CH-7130 Ilanz
Covid19 - And if it happens, what happens?
Hna. Ana Belén Verísimo García, Dominica de la Anunciata
This is the first question that arose within me and that continues to accompany me from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to the present time. Faced with everything that suddenly fell on us due to the force of an unknown disease, which was spreading with incredible speed, and to which we had not given enough attention despite its presence in other towns: China, Italy …, one and Once again a question resurfaced within me that I had heard, many years ago, from a Claretian religious when he gave us formation classes during the novitiate period.
Yes, it was Fr. José Cristo Rey García Paredes who asked us, in response to one of our concerns, a question that restored the insecurities, the lack of certainties and the vulnerability with which we embraced the vocation to Consecrated Religious Life. A question that, at certain moments in my history, has helped me focus what is really important in my life.
The state of alarm in which Spain is entering due to the spread and consequences of COVID19, finds us, Sr. Zoila and me, visiting our sisters in Cameroon. Practically, simultaneously, the government of Rwanda, where we had already passed, also determines a state of alarm. Days later, the state of alarm also reaches Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Benin… Countries to which we would have to go according to our programming. The psychosis generated by the numbers of people infected by the virus, number of deceased people, empty streets, closed establishments, the obligation to “stay” at home, the expansion of the Pandemic in Europe, Asia, America; speculation of what would happen when the virus reached the African continent … A psychosis that generated exorbitant fear, at the same time that it collapsed with a stroke of the pen our certainties, schedules, control of our agenda … Everything was too fast to be true!
And like a small light, the question that had been dormant for some time arises again: And if it happens, what happens? So no problem. Life does not belong to us. We receive it as a gift, and we are invited to give it to the people with whom we associate. Life, this life, is perishable, what can happen? May the virus enter our communities and decimate our religious family; that I can die from one hour to another…; that people strongly linked to me, to us, can die: family, friends and girlfriends… And if it happens, what happens? Isn’t our life marked by an experience of faith that gives full meaning to everything that happens to us? The reality that we are beginning to live leads us to profound questions that allow us to delve into our experience of faith, and… what a coincidence…! On the way to Easter!
And in the midst of this experience, lived in the context of the African continent, where, thank God, it seems that the pandemic is not being expressed as speculated, the prophet Micah resounds incisively and clearly (cf. 6,8); a message collected, with charm and delicacy, in the form of a mantra by the Ain Karen group: “Listen to what the Lord asks of you: it is only that you practice justice, it is only that you love with tenderness, it is only that you walk humbly with your God ”. Yes, to practice justice also in such confusing and limited circumstances; loving with tenderness, letting life flow in its pain and its beauty, collecting and embracing the fragility that inhabits us… and walking, again and again, humbly with our God.
And so it was, that all this disconcerting situation was presented to us as an opportunity to live deeply the radicality of our faith in a formative community of 19 sisters. Community that lives the beauty and challenge of interculturality through six African nationalities. Yes, with them we live the Easter experience from the simplicity of a shared life. In a disturbing expectation: what is going to happen? And at the same time, strengthening our trust in God, family ties with all the sisters of the Congregation, with the entire Order and with the Church. Ties that extended to people we had never met before … We joined in pain and joy. Prayer, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. they broke borders and allowed us to establish links that reinforced what was really important, presence.
Text by Sr. Alma
Covid -19 has done great things in our community life because amidst of anxiety in this trying time we were able to serve the poor during the enhance community quarantine period it started in March 2020 end up August 2020 the sisters collaboratively worked and distributed goods, gift cheque and other monetary help from the catholic church. We also experienced shortage of budget because we did not received salary instead the school employees received their cash assistance for an amount of 4, 000 pesos a month. We became more prayerful and did some more adoration and personal and communal prayers. I was able to become productive for those months planted vegetables and ornamental plants, some of the sisters did their crochet of table runner, we also have pets to take care; rabbit, dogs and chicken. We also have virtual meetings with the sisters in mission Group for us to share one another’s experiences.
Quarantine and isolation affected me in many ways we cannot freely go home and visit with our loved ones because there is no transportation yet, we cannot even express ourselves like in greetings that we used to do upon seeing a sister in the convent rather a simple hi and hello and keep ourselves inside our respective rooms.
I’m in the point of visualizing with the imagination in the time of Moses when the plaque appeared in Egypt. Same as we have experienced this pandemic brought us into deeper faith that there is something great that may happen after all these sufferings, poverty, loneliness, fear and anxiety, God will never forsake us.
Due to the pandemic we have to embrace the new normal/ online platform of educating the young. A lot of adjustments made in school management. We were forced to undergo retrenchment due to low number of enrollees. Skeletal system also was made to be able to sustain our school budget within the school year. But we were able to help the front liners our other campus is used as their quarantine facility since we do not have face to face learning modality.
The challenges emerging for us as a result of the pandemic is the call to be good and have pure heart and be committed in loving and serving God and His people will always be the call for everyone.
I experienced how good and pure of heart God’s people the rich and the poor they have something to offer to anyone who is in great need. This pandemic tested us and bring out the best in us, to do good and to love one another to serve and share not expecting anything in return.
Text by Maeve Mc Mahon O.P.
A SPECIAL TIME WHERE GOD SPEAKS!
SACRED HEART VISTABELLA COMMUNITY - TENERIFE
These months of confinement have been for the community “a special time” in which God takes the opportunity to speak to us. We are a community of 20 sisters who accompany a nursing home.
They have been days in which we have experienced something new in our lives:
- Our coexistence has felt favored in these days where stress has not been the protagonist. Despite being confined, we experience God’s blessing for feeling overprotected. We thank you for not being affected by the virus.
- We are living the pain, the suffering of so many people and families and not being able to do anything but accompany him through prayer. The teachers and students of the school express their concern, very interested in knowing how we are. We live very united to the people who suffer from the loss of loved ones or sisters of our Congregation and of other Congregations.
- The applause at 7pm. It has been a beautiful experience with the neighbors who normally do not know each other but that day after day it is something more familiar and these applauses are united under the same objective: to thank what so many anonymous people do for the good and improvement of the sick and in general by all.
For all this we thank God for removing us from our comfort.
Caritas food covid experience
Text by Mónica Marco
With the arrival of the Coronavirus and a few days after the decree of the state of alarm, the deterioration of the situation in the neighborhood began to be evident. It is a neighborhood “of a lifetime”, which translates into older people, immigrants (most of them Latino) and many families who get ahead with precarious salaries. Now many of them without income or reduced to a minimum. In Cáritas of our parish, Santa María la Blanca de Canillejas (Madrid), the number of families requesting food aid skyrocketed as it happens in many others.
Fortunately the angels also multiply. A group of “extra” volunteers was quickly formed to help with whatever was needed, and among other things, the NGO World Food Kitchen donated menus for families in our neighborhood. They are menus of homemade food, prepared to heat and eat. This implies the logistics of going every day to collect the food, and that the families stop by Caritas to collect it.
Águeda and I offered to go daily to look for food, so every day, around 12 o’clock we set off. The “distribution center” is in the Parish of San Juan de Dios in Santa Eugenia (Madrid), we could say that “almost at the other end”, although without traffic it is only 20 minutes.
There we see Gonzalo every day, a great guardian angel and brother of Saint John of God. He is always smiling, always running, and usually on the phone managing a donation or advising that something has arrived and is going to be found. What moves there! And the energy and dedication of this man. We could say that he coordinates a logistics center for donations, with quite a few volunteers who receive merchandise, divide and deliver. Among them is David, who to the sound of “we lend a hand to the sisters” runs to get the pallet (yes, yes, a pallet) with the menus. One box, two boxes… and so on up to 200 menus, or some more on the days that it is possible, since other parishes will also look for their own.
All the packages placed in the car (and already mastered the technique), back to the neighborhood. Of course, be careful that they do not move much. We admit that it is difficult to overcome the curiosity of opening a package to see what the menu is. They look very good: meat, chicken or fish, served well with vegetables, pasta or rice and even dessert. And… it took us about three weeks to realize that not all the packages they gave us every day have the same menu!
As we arrive at Caritas, we have our small unloading army headed by Juan, waiting for us at the door, along with 5 or 6 more boys already prepared with boxes to quickly unload the menus, count them, and start distributing. Usually when we arrive there are already families waiting to pick up the food. It is impactful to see the situation day after day and especially with a not very encouraging perspective in the short term, and that we are there “just a moment”.
The singing voice is led by Marisa organizing everything “behind the scenes” and Nulbia “listing in hand” delivering menus. Hours and hours spend every day there serving families. They tell us stories of all kinds, some very satisfactory, but … one day the menus weren’t enough … Ugh, it’s hard to tell people that “there isn’t today”, especially when it is probably “well done” food from the day.
It is clear that the health situation, and therefore the economic one, is leaving many families in a very vulnerable situation. At the same time, it is nice to see the response and the disinterested collaboration of so many people doing their bit to help alleviate, even a little, the situation of these families. But in recent days, since we speak “in phases”, it is inevitable for us to think how long are we going to have menus? And then what are we going to do with / for these families?
¿Qué significa para nosotras Dominicas Covid 19 ? ¿a qué nos impulsa?
C amino de búsqueda , a la escucha de Su Palabra y de las voces del mundo
O rientar nuestras miradas hacia las nuevas fracturas de la humanidad
V islumbrar nuevas rutas de futuro
I maginar una humanidad renovada ( o impulsar una renovación de la humanidad)
D esaprender para aprender de nuevoPara ello tenemos:
1 camino a descubrir y recorrer
9 meses para gestar el nuevo mundo soñado por Dios.
A JOURNEY INTO THE DEPTHS
Reflection by Maeve Mc Mahon O.P.
In a recent article in our Covid-19 newsletter, Sr. Brighde Vallely made reference to an article she had read, Christianity in a time of sickness, which was written by a sociologist and theologian, Fr. Tomás Halík, in America, the Jesuit Weekly. While acknowledging that Covid-19 had exposed the fissures in the social, economic, ecological and spiritual foundations of our global world, Halík went on to ask that we, Christians, members of one of the earliest global organisations, should respond to the challenge of a world that has changed. It wouldn’t be sufficient to attempt to update external structures in our church, but rather, we should reflect on how to continue Pope Francis’ call to reform: “ Shift towards the heart of the Gospel, ‘a journey into the depths.’”(Halík)
We carry in our minds from this state of emergency, the images of closed and empty churches. We shouldn’t miss the symbolism. We’re all outside locked church doors. Is Jesus within? Halík says that Jesus has already, “knocked from within and come out- and it is our job to seek him and follow him.” This past Easter, one couldn’t but draw a parallel between the empty churches and the empty tomb. When the disciples reached the tomb, they heard a voice from above saying, “He is not here. He has risen. He has gone ahead of you to Galilee.”
Where is the Galilee in our world today where we can find Jesus? For a number of people, Galilee is the crowded Wards and Intensive Care Units of our hospitals. God is the front-line workers who risk their lives, so that others might have the chance to continue living. These essential workers are part of what Brighde writes about: “The huge and rare outflow of love that has encircled vulnerable planet earth.”
We know that there are believers and nonbelievers among the front line workers: people whose love is selfless. Halík shares sociological research which indicates that the number of believers, those who identify with the traditional form of religion, is falling in the world while there is an increase in the number of seekers. He observes that “the main dividing line is no longer between those who consider themselves believers and those who consider themselves non-believers. There are seekers among believers (those for whom faith is not a legacy, but a way) and among nonbelievers, who reject the religious notions put forward to them by those around them but nevertheless have a yearning for something to satisfy their thirst for meaning. I am convinced that the ‘Galilee of today,’ where we must seek God who has survived death, is the world of the seekers.” (Halík)
With a warning to abandon our proselytizing aims, we are reminded that just as Jesus refrained from pushing the lost sheep of Israel back into the structures of the Judaism of his day, we should refrain from “entering the world of the seekers to convert them as quickly as possible and squeeze them into the existing institutional and mental confines of our churches.”(HalÍk)
Is there a special challenge in this for members of the Order of Preachers? What exactly does our motto, “Contemplare et contemplate aliis tradere” mean in our Covid-19 world? Is the seeker a person who is prepared to get to a new depth of awareness, one who might ask some transformational questions as Sr. Angela Campion hopes? One who will work with others on the answers? Maybe we have some basic questions with which we should begin? What has this time been like for women? Have they found meaning in a home church – gathered around the family table much in the way the Jews replaced the altar of the destroyed temple and the sacrificial offering with reflection and study of Scripture? Is this the time for a new chapter of Christianity – when disparate groups of men and women; lay, married, male and female members of religious orders, young and not so young, ponder the revelation of God in our time so as to bring about the kingdom of justice, peace, love and care for the earth? Can we include the marginalized who are seekers too? There are so many questions. Can we work together on the answers?
One of my students revealed God to me recently. She was passing a church just as she saw danger coming towards her in the form of three known rapists. Her heart missed a beat. Then – “I winked over at Jesus,” she told me. The three thugs turned down another path. Yeah. Jesus covered her back. “Thank you, Jesus,” she said as she finished telling me about the incident. I don’t know the last time my friend was in church.