Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic

In March, the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa Leadership Council wrote a letter to the Congregation to present precautions that Sisters should take in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in our world. They wrote, “As social distancing and cancellations may provide us with more personal quiet time and space, let us take those opportunities to widen the circle of those people and situations we bring to our prayer and contemplation. During these challenging days, as we reach out increasingly through phone calls, emails, letters, and social media, let us offer to one another the alms of kindness, compassion, and sincere affection.” Toni Harris, OP, asked Sisters and Associates to focus on positive experiences and record them. The following are notes recording some positives experienced in the past few months.

“Here at the Mound, examples of loving care surround us—from the remarkably generous labors of our coworkers, to the kind words a person often shares in the hallway, to the work of the Sisters who carry trays to rooms or prepare liturgies or work in the mailroom, to . . . and I could go on and on. Kindness is evident everywhere, including in the generous, patient service of our prioresses and others whose care is so evident.”
Mary Paynter, OP

“A beautiful experience occurred at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chewelah, WA, where I serve as a chaplain. During this COVID-19 pandemic, all visitors are prohibited from visiting patients. We had a patient who was critically ill and asked to see her young children. Because the hospital is only one story, we were able to have her children stand outside the building, look through the window, and speak to her over the phone. Due to the critical level of her illness, it was necessary to transfer her to Spokane for a higher level of care. During this pandemic, I am not allowed to visit patients in person, but we were able to facilitate a unique way to connect a mother with her children as a means to ‘ease her way.’ Please join me in praying for her recovery.”
Linda Hunt, OP

“We at the Karlov Apartments in Oak Lawn, IL, have a young person who volunteered to get groceries or prescriptions for anyone who needs them. I was impressed at her unsolicited offer. Also, there are nine other Sisters living here, and one of them sent an email the other day reaching out to check on us and offer help if needed. She offered jigsaw puzzles as she was just being her thoughtful self.”
Pat Dillon, OP

“Bill and I joined a car parade past the house of our great nephew to celebrate his birthday. I have had several neighbors reach out to us to ask how we are and offer any help we need. Our family did a Zoom call to chat with each other and celebrate the fact that our daughter-in-law has
completed her quarantine after returning from Germany with 36 high school students. Our virtual Sinsinawa Dominican study group had a Zoom call to support each other during this time. We plan to do that every two weeks for a while. I am so glad I have the opportunity to connect with these amazing, wise women. We are grateful for our health and send prayers for all of yours.”
Jana Minor, Associate

“We (LouAnne Willette, OP; Margery Race, OP; and Helen Marie Raycraft, OP) have had the custom of praying Lauds every morning, reading the daily readings, and then breaking open the Word for one another. Since we have plenty of time, we have added 10 minutes of silence before sharing our thoughts on the readings. I believe the silent time unites us in deeper ways with our neighborhood, the city, the world, our families, and each member of our Congregation.”
Helen Marie Raycraft, OP

“Our Faithful Companions group in Madison, WI, would like to share an idea of our recent daily practice, one we think is easily transferable to other groups. In an attempt to focus on the positives in our lives, we share one moment or event occurring that day for which we are grateful. One member starts the daily response and others respond ‘all’ throughout the day. Gratitudes range from friends and family, technology, spring cleaning moments, poetry, examples of heroism large and small, photos of grandchildren and family weddings, solitary walks exploring the beauty of springtime, etc. Each day these brief responses bring encouragement; delight; challenge; a special bond of sisterhood; and at the heart of it all, relationship!” Our group includes Sarah Naughton, OP; Jean Heinrichs; Maggie Hopkins, OP; Michelle Horton, Associate; Margaret O’Brien, OP; Eileen Murphy; Paula McKenzie; Cristie Jacobs; and myself.
Kathleen Phelan, OP

“I am suffering through this pandemic by not doing the most rewarding work I’ve ever done in my life—volunteering at the Los Ángeles Soup Kitchen on Skid Row serving the poorest of poor and people experiencing homelessness, the most neglected of all people. I’m uniting this ‘lockdown’ period with a friend in prison, Fr. Stephan Kelly, and all protestors speaking truth to power. I’ve always had a morning routine of either walking or doing Yoga; writing poetry as a form of meditation; reading the daily Gospel message in my Bible (La Biblia), in which each word/ phrase in any language really hits me. . . . I’m so grateful for our compassionate visionary leaders of our community, for the Sisters who call, write, text, or Facebook message every day.”
Elizabeth Rodkewich, OP

“Thanks to the mission fund and our Atlanta Associates and local community, I was able to join a medical mission to Kingston, Jamaica, earlier this year. What a blessing to take part in an experience of generous love. I know it brought healing both to those seeking health and those providing skills. For six days we ‘built’ a clinic in whatever setting the local leaders chose. I was able to offer counsel and some health education. It was an extraordinary opportunity that
deepened my hope in the human family. Now this month I experienced an unexpected parallel here in Atlanta. I am a chaplain at Mercy Care, a federally qualified health center. Mercy Care has four standing clinics, a medical coach, and a street team. Our mission is to serve those who are homeless and those without insurance. We provide primary care, behavioral health, dental, and vision services. Eight Mercy Care staff along with med students and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doctors setup COVID-19 testing centers at a different shelter every day (pictured below). The same collaborative energy that was apparent in Jamaica surveyed space and set up four stations in the United States. This time we had tents instead of tarps. The team tested each resident so that positive cases could be isolated in a local hotel. The team tested about 1,400 shelter residents and people who live outside. I was amazed at the same generous spirit of the team and the gratitude of the community we serve every day. Even in this pandemic time, the beloved community shines in goodness as well as in exposing again the inequality that wounds our nation. May our work continue.”
Kathy Komarek, OP

“A seed of light . . . Seeds of resurrection and resurgence lie dormant in and outside the tomb. In fact they are everywhere. . . . Each person in our community is handing on wisdom seeds through our gathering in celebrative prayer and broadcasting our seed to a larger spectrum, just as Jesus did. This incubator of planted seeds has great potential for future growth. In nature, trees reach out to bridge gaps. Flowers bloom in sidewalks. In the earthen darkness of trials, disease, and wars, we, too, search for ways to find light. It’s a both/and. Darkness prevails in the tomb and yet resurgence, resurrection is happening. Smog has lifted in China, dolphins and clear water appear in Italy, and in Los Angeles clear blue sky is emerging. We as Dominicans of Sinsinawa, a beacon on a hill, are finding new ways to tell and live the Good News.”
Caroline Sullivan, OP

“Palm Sunday Eucharist. Ahh . . . such communion! The proclamation of the readings and the Gospel were so powerful. So delighted to be at one with us all” (referring to the livestreaming of Sunday Mass from Sinsinawa).
KC Young, OP


Click for Spectrum May 2020 Index

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