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Covid-19: Some news from the Congregation - N. 4

on 05 Apr, 2020
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04/05/2020, General Government and of various structures.- Dears Sisters, Thank you for your communications. We can continue to inform the Congregation of the way in which the communities are living these moments of confinement imposed by COVID 19, but deep in prayer and in fraternal life with gestures of solidarity. We continue to encourage each one of you with our prayers. We are still waiting for everybody's news.

Interactive map

Map as of 04/05/2020. Click on the image to see the interactive map of Microsoft

From the Province of Manizales

30/03/2020.- In the Province in general, the sisters and staff are encouraged and accompanied by daily reflections and images posted on Facebook and WhatsApp, in accordance with reality and also through messages and communications from the Provincial Superior.

At the level of the community, a more incarnated prayer has been intensified, from the reality, daily Holy Hour, Eucharist attended in the media, Rosary with the neighbors from the houses or buildings close by who participate from their balconies and making Way of the Cross in community. It has been a time of grace dedicated to strong moments of deep prayer and meditation, taking into account the indications given by the Government. We dedicated time for community study, community meeting and recreation with board games and also other meetings and dialogue. 

We are living with great hope because with trust in God we can discover that this is a privileged time to reflect, to recognize our need and that of others and the mission we have to build a new world. It has been an opportunity to feel useful to each other, to take up again the tasks of the house, to review our way of life, our solidarity both in relationship with others and within the community.

In the schools, to the students and teachers: attention through Virtual classes, meetings through the platform, cell phone calls, video calls, emails. The exercises have been uploaded on a platform. Teachers work from their homes. Administrative staff as well as supportive staff, some work from their homes during this close down and others working normally. They are accompanied spiritually with calls and messages through virtual means.

Since last week, no staff has been working in the Santa Bernardita Kindergarten except a caretaker who is in charge of supervising the installations. The teachers accompany the children from their homes in their pedagogical practices. They give them their homework, parents accompany the children and send them back the report.  This is what has been implemented in the schools to avoid the loss of this school year.

The workers have been accompanied on a spiritual level with Gospel of the day, a short reflection applied to life and an invitation to live Word during the day.  We share with them reflections to encourage them in this moment that has touched humanity terribly.

In the houses of the elderly sisters, the nurses and support personnel are on duty with a certificate of displacement for the care of the sisters, taking all the necessary precautions.

The Presentation Clinic

In the Clinic we live very closely the implications of preparation for the care of coronavirus patients. The institution has changed the normal pace of care for people; the 59 beds available at the clinic, which until recently remained at 120% occupied, are at present with 11 patients hospitalized at a minimum,; 70% of the staff is on vacation, we have one staff to attend to whoever arrives, some operating rooms are ready for emergencies ... all in expectation and prepared to care for patients of Covid-19, the measures are extreme. We have very committed professionals, thanks be to God, but also personnel with lot of fears in the face of this pandemic.

The sisters are well, thanks be to God, the pastoral work has been restricted, we have the celebration of the Eucharist, only for the sisters, because due to the restrictions the people cannot accompany us. We bring the needs of the whole world, Congregation and our Province in the daily Eucharist. Let us unite ourselves more each day in prayer, prayer that makes us strong in these moments of fragility in the face of a "virus" that forced us to stay with the essential, with GOD.

Catholic University of Manizales

As a university community and a local community, we are living this time as an opportunity to learn, to reflect on ourselves, our decisions and ways of facing crises and situations, so that we can be grateful for what we have: our family, the people who surround us, our work, the daily details that in general go unnoticed by the speed of life. We will come out of this crisis strengthened in our spirituality and ready to commit ourselves to the defense of life and the service of others with what we are and have, sure of God of life who accompanies and protects us and gives us the possibility of applying what we know and have learned in the University for the good of humanity.

The community has proposed to strengthen the prayer of intercession, to take charge of all the tasks of the house, so that the people who collaborate with us can keep the quarantine. This has allowed the community to grow in organization, priorities, teamwork, and justice.

As an educational community:

To participate in calls for research by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in order to find alternative solutions to this public health situation.

Solidarity campaign to collect money that will be given to Social Work in Betania to contribute to the purchase of 77,000 market products that are needed in Manizales. This as a way to support the efforts of the Mayor.

To motivate our teachers and students of the programs in the field of Health to participate to be volunteers that the hospitals of the city have been leading.

Continue to accompany with virtual classes and welfare strategies: medical support, psychological services, pastoral attention to the 3,600 students of the University who are currently at home.

From the Vice-Rector of Welfare and Pastoral Care, some lines of attention have been opened for the university community: the medical service will be attentive to personal and family consultations, as well as the service of Psychology and of the sisters.

In this moment of crisis, sisters made the decision not only to preserve the employment of all the collaborators, but also not to stop the development of the activities of the university to extend a hand to those who need us most at this time: our students and families. Thanks to them we exist as an institution and we all have a mission and work to do. None of our roles are minor; at the UCM we are all trainers and we contribute to the integral formation of our students and university community in general.

Even to the companies with which the services are outsourced, the monthly payment of the canon will be made in such a way that the people who work at the UCM can have their salary at this time.

For our students, the University decided not to stop the development of academic activities. For this reason, it has provided the necessary means: training teachers, obtaining licenses for Zoom Meetings, and the support of a qualified team in the Distance Learning Unit so that the meetings with the professors are carried out with the minimum of inconvenience. Multiple meetings with Deans and Program Directors have allowed us to closely follow the processes and solve difficulties along the way.

Brazil

As you all know, in recent weeks the world has faced very difficult times with the pandemic. The situation in Brazil has been no different. These last few days have been of great concern and also of many precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19; a large part of the population is in quarantine, despite the position of President Jair Bolsonaro. Thank God, the governments of the departments and mayors are not following the president's guidelines.

The cities most affected so far are Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Fortaleza. We thank God  that the virus has not yet reached Alexandria and São José da Mata where we live. Our communities have organized themselves, respecting the orientations which lead us to suspend all face-to-face missionary activities with individuals and groups. The sales of the products from the garden, a project with women are done by WhatsApp once a week.

We organize time for longer moments of personal and community prayer, study and community meetings. Also, through video conferencing we strengthen communication between the two communities. We participate in the Eucharist virtually.

This time has invited us to recognize our weaknesses and to deepen our relationship with the God of life. May Mary our Mother be our support and comfort in this time of fear, fragility and discernment.

With love, the Sisters of Brazil.

From the Vice Province of Middle East

Baghdad, March 30, 2020 .- At the beginning of Lent, the Word of God invited us to distance ourselves from the daily routine: "Go to your most secluded room, shut the door, and pray to your Father in secret who is present in secret" (Mt 6:6); "Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit" (Mt 4:1); Perhaps we also sang: "Lord, with you we will go into the desert". Now we are in the desert. With the coronavirus crisis, we are led, in spite of ourselves, into an unexpected form of desert, and we are living an unusual Lent. Today, we are all shaken by what is happening to us. In general, we are used to an agenda in which everything is planned in advance, where every activity has its place. Now our plans are turned upside down: the lives of families, businesses, educational and health institutions, groups - everything has to be reorganized. We are used to circulate and gather as we wished. These are restrictions on our dear freedom. There are very real hardships for each and every one of us, without forgetting, in every country, the first victims of the coronavirus and those who are treating them.

The situation in the three countries of our Vice-Province

In Iraq, since March 15, Iraqi authorities have announced for the first time the death of 17 people and the contamination of 208 others.

On Saturday, March 23, the day of the Shiite pilgrimage, tens of thousands of people "coming from Baghdad and other provinces of Iraq", went on foot, on camel or horseback, walking to the district where the location of the tomb of Imam Musa El Kazem, a major figure of Shiite Islam, to commemorate it, thus resisting the curfew imposed by the authorities to stem the spread of Covid-19, according to a source in the authorities in charge of the holy place.

In Iraq, the Iraqi Ministry of Health had imposed a quarantine for all. But people don't seem to realize the risk. The Iraqi authorities have decided to suspend studies in universities and schools and to close centers of public gathering to prevent the spread of the Corona virus.

On the other hand, Saint Raphael Hospital in Baghdad, continues to offer its care to the various patients (apart from coronavirus patients) in an approach that is not only linked to immediate and emergency actions, but based on a human and professional approach to the quality of continuous care at all levels, especially in the maternity section, without stopping to present its services to the most needy.

As for education in Iraq and throughout the Vice-Province, the countries are trying to find alternatives for teaching pupils deprived of schooling as a preventive measure against the corona virus epidemic. Teachers give their lessons on the Internet and students try to follow them to avoid losing the school year. But the availability of Internet access varies considerably from country to country.

After months of anti-government protests in Lebanon and Iraq, the corona virus is yet another blow to students in both countries. The task in Iraq is much more difficult in the absence of appropriate means of communication. This increases the risk that more students will be deprived of education. So we have started giving lessons to the students at our school via WhatsApp phone messaging application and we receive homework in return in the same means. The presence of parents at home with their children during school work gives good satisfaction and helps to motivate the students.

Churches and Mosques everywhere are closed, we continue to celebrate Mass in the Big Chapel with all possible security measures. All pastoral activities are stopped and everyone prays at home. We try to live these times of crisis without being ruled by fear, knowing that God is our help, strength and refuge.

While in Iraq and Jordan the action of the Church is timid, in Lebanon it is different. Faithful Christians use the media, traditional and social networks to pray and maintain their faith. One should have seen the statue of Our Lady of Lebanon that rises in Harissa, in Kesrouan, illuminated on Wednesday evening (25 March - feast of the Annunciation, proclaimed in 2010 a common Islamic-Christian national holiday) in the colors of the Lebanese flag as thousands of spectators accompanied the service asking for God's mercy through Mary's intercession, at a time when the country is facing a critical health crisis.

This is in a nutshell what we are going through. Praying to God that He will have mercy on His children all over the world and that He will stop with His merciful hand this evil that has struck us. What is asked of us today is to make ourselves available for what is important: prayer and supplication and to accept privations; this is part of the duty we have today in this Lenten season. May this time of trial be an opportunity to pray especially for those who are infected by the disease and for the doctors and all the health personnel, not forgetting the priests and religious who accompany the sick.

With faith, let us turn to Our Lady, helper and consoler of the sick all over the world, so that she may renew in us trust, hope and peace of heart of Jesus Christ.

In Lebanon, (438 cases of contamination including 8 deaths) the army was deployed to enforce the directives asking the population "to leave their homes only in cases of emergency" but unfortunately there are still people who think that this only happens to others. The regions of Beirut, Upper Metn, Kesrouan, Jbeil, are infected, while in Baabda-Hazmieh, where the community is located, the region seems less infected, but our Sisters have imposed a quarantine on themselves so as not to risk their lives and those of others.

Jordan in the time of the Coronavirus Covid-19: From March18, Jordanian authorities imposed total confinement in Jordan. Confinement of everyone except for urgent cases, ban on gatherings, travel within the country. Medical work is limited to emergencies and operations.

A curfew has been in effect since March 21 and until further notice. All flights to and from Jordan have been suspended since March 17 until further notice. All border crossing points, land and sea are also closed.

At the level of the Church and our community

Cancellation of all activities that bring people together. Churches are closed. Priests celebrate Masses without the faithful; but they are published on the internet. Our bishop has given permission to religious communities to take communion at home but according to a fixed prayer program. On our side, we have intensified our time of prayer begging God to bring down his mercy on the whole world, and we follow the instructions of the Pope and the local Church. 

At the Italian Hospital:

It offers, as always, services for the sick poor. Recently, it faces challenges because of the very precarious economic situation of the country and also because of the lack of support offered by the charitable projects that cover the costs of refugee patients. The number of patients have decreased, as well as the number of surgeries and the income.

It is difficult to get food for the patients and also for the employees who are forced to stay in the hospital, in their work place. Food prices have increased, lack of fresh products on the market, few vegetables and bread.

The numbers of the coronavirus in the three countries:

In Iraq: Baghdad has 154 cases and 13 deaths; Basra 81 cases and 8 deaths; Duhok, 7 cases.
In the country as a whole: 550 cases, 44 deaths and 136 cured.
In Lebanon, as of March29, there were 438 cases, 10 deaths and 30 cured.
In Jordan: 259 cases and 2 deaths.