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On the frontline of the fight against COVID-19

November 22, 2020

As the whole world struggles with the Covid-19 pandemic, the call is to creatively respond to emerging needs and, abandoning fear for one’s own life, to help those most in need.

Recently, the Mayor of one of the places where the Daughters of Charity are present, asked for help in the Nursing Home run by lay people. The situation was very difficult: 78 residents of the Home had coronavirus. The staff was also almost entirely infected and, in accordance with Polish sanitary regulations, had to undergo isolation in their own homes. Three Daughters of Charity and two Franciscan Sisters went there for the service.

One of the Sisters relates: “We did practically everything, from cleaning to care and hygiene treatment, to preventive and medical help and, above all, to being present to these people. We felt their anxiety, fear, need for closeness; although they were not always able to communicate, it was evident in their eyes that they were afraid, that they did not know what was going on. There were people of different ages in the ward, including the very elderly and disabled and the intellectually disabled. After some time, they recognized us, either by our voices or by the frames of our glasses. In all this suffering, and in spite of it, we felt their sympathy. We tried as much as possible to be with those under our care. Every day we prayed the rosary and  the chaplet of Divine Mercy with them. The Holy Eucharist was not celebrated because the priest was also infected and no one from outside could enter the Nursing Home. What was very difficult was changing clothes several times; we put on the protective overalls and walked in full uniform for 12-19 hours a day.”

Loneliness and longing – these are the feelings that were awakened in the hearts of those under the care of the Sisters, distant from their relatives, locked in a building, uncertain of tomorrow. These feelings were especially acute when the residents went “to the house of the Lord”. Only a few hours after the Sisters’ arrival at the Nursing Home, Mrs. Kazimiera and Mr. Janek faced the transition from earthly life to eternity. The Sisters accompanied them in prayer through this difficult moment and the staff also joined in. The manager said: “All her life, Mrs. Kazimiera participated in the sacramental life and on the day she went to the Lord, He granted her the grace of the Sisters’ presence who prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with her during her last moments on earth.”

There were enriching, loving conversations during meals with the staff who, in their great effort and deep concern, gave testimony to true dedication and love of neighbor. It was also a time of trial for them – they left their families to look after the sick and stood beside their beds, day and night. Their relatives would come to the gate of the nursing home and hung candies and sweets. Many people and communities supported the service of the Sisters and staff with their prayers which was a source of strength to them and to those under their care in difficult moments.

At present, all the residents are healthy and the members of the staff have returned to work. To the Sisters who served in this Nursing Home, St. Paul’s words are deeply engraved in their hearts: “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13).