This article comes from the Sisters of providence in Holyoke, MA and tells how they are coping with the coronavirus.

The Sisters of Providence and all their ministries have been focused on preparing for the arrival of the coronavirus in Massachusetts since February. Their Governor declared a state of emergency on March 24 and closed non—essential businesses and ordered all to shelter in place. The congregational staff had the option of working from home or periodically coming to the office.  They all have donned  masks and are armed with wipes and hand sanitizers and are following all the protocols for social distancing.

They had to face the difficult reality of making two small layoffs and assisting staff through the process of obtaining unemployment compensation and the additional federal enhancement of $1,200.  They worked to apply for the Payment Protection Loan Program for each of their ministries and completed the applications, assembled the required documentation and sought various board approvals. These funds provide a life line in the short run to support these non-profit organizations.

Since their ministries often focused on elders and those who are poor, they instituted tight restrictions on accessing the buildings by workers, guests, and vendors.  Each visitor answers several questions, has his/her temperature taken, and uses a hand sanitizer.  As the number of COVID – 19 cases has grown rapidly in Massachusetts and the total deaths have climbed, the intensity of all of these precautions has increased.  Massachusetts was in its surge the week of April 27 and they had the distinction of having the fourth highest rate of Covid 19 cases, just behind New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. Fortunately, due to careful preparations in their hospitals in western MA they have not been overwhelmed to date.

Their Sisters at Providence Place have had to adjust to having meals delivered to their rooms or in the lounge with 6 feet of spacing; no gatherings of any kind and basically sheltering in place for the past several weeks. With all liturgical services curtailed, Easter Liturgy was experienced through television or other media.  The death of one of their Sisters prompted them  to face the current limitations of no wake or funeral, but only a simple burial service at the cemetery.  In life and in death, their  way of being and relating have changed.

Pictured in this article is Sr. Mary Caritas Geary, SP, vice president of the Sisters of Providence, demonstrating her compliance with Covid 19 precautions.  

Barbara McMullen, CDP


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123, New Lenox, Chicago IL 60606

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8:00am, 9:15am, 11:00am

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