COVID-19 Around the World

Sister M in the US

Stories about COVID-19 from different corners of the world

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I am an American nun. Traditionally nuns know a little about enclosure and ‘lockdown’. I was serving at a convent in Ireland when COVID-19 virus arrived; ten days into the Irish countrywide lockdown, my home community called me home to America.

A frantic 72-hour rush ensued! Flights were only available from Dublin a 5-hour journey from the Irish convent, usually made by a very efficient bus system EXCEPT for no tourists no internal travel (because of lockdown) NO BUSSES! The last bus was Friday night, and my flight was on Sunday. Fortunately, good friends risked and drove me to Dublin to board a flight with only 40 American passport holding passengers on this huge airliner. We sat separated by vacant rows of empty seats and arrived to thermometer laden teams with contact forms to complete in case the virus was detected. Masked sisters whisked me from the airport sidewalk (no entering the airport itself) to a quarantine of two weeks at my home convent in a seaside cottage.

Photo: Sister M 

Our community pathways and walks and buildings were ominously silent. Usually, there are tourists for the beautifully architectural church or strollers to the gift shop or teas. I found it hard to adjust. The atmosphere was surreal like I had arrived on the moon. Our community and grounds are closed to the public. We ourselves cannot even go to the church and have our prayer times and services within the convent or Friary. Normally our community is ministry and service-oriented with teas, plays, musical events etc. Much of these have been freely put online to bless the public who visit our website. Only the nuns and friars under 60 years of age go out to the grocery store and the pharmacy. Masks are worn when leaving the convent or Friary. Our quilt studio has been turned into a mask producing studio. 4000 masks have been made and sent out. Many requests have come from churches in the nearby communities and our churches are open for worship this Sunday Ascension.

Source: the church of the transfiguration

I personally have been nudged to email, write or zoom with friends over the years to make sure they are safe and healthy. It has brought a connectedness that normal everyday life had not afforded or that I had overlooked in my busyness. What will the future bring? No one quite knows. Here, a nun has an advantage having learned at least to some extent to live one day at a time and to be grateful for the blessings thereof. I wish you these blessings and peace at this time.

Photo: the Church, the Chapter House and the Bell Tower surround the Common. Slideshow photos by Robert Benson, copyright Paraclete Press

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