13 Nuns At Metro Detroit Convent Killed By COVID-19: Report

WWJ News
July 22, 2020 - 11:29 am
Felician Sisters of North America

(credit: Felician Sisters of North America)

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(WWJ) The coronavirus pandemic is responsible for the deaths of more than a dozen nuns at a convent in Livonia, religious officials report.

According to the Global Sisters Report, a nonprofit project of the National Catholic Reporter, 13 members in the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice, or Felician Sisters, died after battling COVID-19 over the last three months; the latest succumbing to the the respiratory illness on June 27.  

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The report, released Monday, says the women were teachers. One was a director of religious education, one an organist, one a nurse, one a secretary, and another an author and historian. 

They ranged in age from 69 to 99 years old. 

"We couldn't contain the grief and the sorrow and the emotional impact," said Sr. Noel Marie Gabriel, director of clinical health services for the Felician Sisters of North America. "We went through the motions of doing what we had to do, but that month was like a whole different way of life. That was our most tragic time. It was a month of tragedy and sorrow and mourning and grieving."

According to Bridge Magazine, which published details about each victim, they were as follows: Sister Mary Luiza Wawrzyniak, 99; Sister Celine Marie Lesinski, 92; Sister Mary Estelle Printz, 95; Sister Thomas Marie Wadowski, 73, Sister Mary Patricia Pyszynski, 93; Sister Mary Clarence (Adeline) Borkoski, 83; Sister Rose Mary Wolak, 86; Sister Mary Janice (Margaret) Zolkowski, 86; Sister Mary Ann (Fernanda) Alice Gradowski, 73; Sister Victoria Marie Indyk, 69; and Sister Mary Martinez (Virginia) Rozek, 87.

At least 19 other Catholic sisters have died in the U.S. during the pandemic, according to the Sisters Report, which states the deaths in Livonia "may be the worst loss of life to a community of women religious since the 1918 influenza pandemic.”

Sister Mary Christopher Moore, the order’s provincial minister, said another older Felician sister had recently died due to the residual effects of the coronavirus, which she noted 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," Moore said, in a statement early this month. "We ask for your prayers as we support them in their recovery. At the same time, we are moving forward with slowly loosening the tight restrictions under which Sisters in our convents, especially our larger convents, have operated for more than three months.”

This news comes as, after an earlier flattening of the curve, the virus is once again surging in Michigan.

The state health department on Tuesday added 573 confirmed cases the tally, with nine new deaths also reported. That brings the total number of cases in the state since the start of the pandemic to 74,725, with a total of 6,135 deaths.