COVID Went Through Convent 'Like Wildfire'

Convent in Livonia, Mich., loses 13 nuns to virus
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2020 9:30 AM CDT
COVID Went Through Convent 'Like Wildfire'
A stock photo of nuns.   (Getty Images)

In what "may be the worst loss of life to a community of women religious since the 1918 influenza pandemic," a Roman Catholic convent in Livonia, Mich., says it has lost 13 of its nuns to COVID-19. CBS News reports that's 22% of the convent's nuns, who are part of the Felician Sisters of North America. The news comes by way of the Global Sisters Report, which spoke with one sister at the home who had this to say: "I first heard two aides had contracted the virus. Then it hit sisters on the second floor, and it went through like wildfire." That's not an exaggeration, per CNN, which reports 12 of the deaths occurred in a one-month period beginning on April 10, which happened to be Good Friday. The 13th death was that of a sister who pulled through, only to die from the virus's effects in June.

"We went through the motions of doing what we had to do, but that month was like a whole different way of life," says Sr. Noel Marie Gabriel, director of clinical health services for the Felician Sisters of North America. "That was our most tragic time. It was a month of tragedy and sorrow and mourning and grieving." Those who died were between the ages of 69 and 99—teachers, a librarian, a nurse, and a secretary in the Vatican Secretariat of State among them. Another 17 sisters contracted the virus but recovered. The convent, which sits on 360 acres near Detroit, is home to about 50 sisters, part of the 469 nuns who belong to the order. (More coronavirus stories.)

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