Spared so far, the congregation of the Sisters of Charity are now experiencing what they feared about the comings and goings of employees: a devastating outbreak of COVID-19 that puts the lives of nuns in danger.
So far, 39 of some 300 nuns have contracted the virus, as have 43 of 110 employees. This is the largest outbreak in a religious congregation in Quebec, while at least six others have been affected by the pandemic since March.
“All of our prayers are with these women who have served so much in our society, and for the members of their staff affected by this outbreak. Courage! »Wrote on Twitter Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix, who also wanted to deliver a message of support in a video posted on social networks.
It is Monday that we will realize the real extent of the outbreak, which made its way to the “infirmary” of the Generalate, located in Beauport, where the average age of the sisters. amounts to about 88 years. The results of a massive screening conducted Friday within the establishment will then be unveiled, according to Mathieu Boivin, spokesperson for the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale.
“The sisters could not leave the establishment, it is forbidden, except for extreme medical emergencies. And there have been no more visits allowed since the month of March ”, explains in an interview the director general of the congregation, Jean M. Gagné.
While the sisters seemed almost entirely cut off from the outside world, the hundred or so employees were able to come and go without any problem.
Despite many precautions and measures, this is what would have brought the coronavirus into the congregation, suspects the Superior General Sister Monique Gervais.
“We were worried that it would end up entering our walls. We were cautious and we were lucky to be spared so far, but we were also exposed. We have employees who circulate, like everywhere ”, maintains the nun.
“We have never experienced something like this. Not only is this the first epidemic, but we have never had so many sisters who fell ill simultaneously, ”she continues, underlining the concerns raised by the families of the sisters.
While waiting for things to follow, the Sisters of Charity rely on Providence and support each other in this trial. To help avoid any gathering, televised prayers are broadcast in all rooms of the establishment.
“We try to gain great strength in prayer and in hope, we have a whole team that watches over us for care”, concludes M.me Gervais, referring to the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale mission team.