A dozen Felician sisters at a convent in Michigan died from COVID-19 in a single month, and a 13th sister died six weeks later, according to their order.
The convent, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Livonia, about 20 miles west of Detroit, also has another 17 sisters who had the disease caused by the coronavirus but recovered.
“We all knew if it hit the place, it would be bad,” Sister Mary Ann Smith, who was sick with the virus from mid-April until the end of May, told the Global Sisters Report. “But we never anticipated how quickly it would go.”
She told the outlet that when she was ill she thought her life was ending.
“I was so sick, I would pray the Lord would take me,” Sister Mary Ann said. “I was in so much pain.”
From April 10, which was Good Friday, to May 10, twelve sisters ranging in age from 69 to 99 died of COVID-19 at the convent.
A 13th sister, Sister Mary Danatha Suchyta, died of the disease June 27 at age 98.
Sister Mary Danatha had been a member of the Felician congregation for 80 years, and all 13 who died were members for at least 50 years, according to a list provided by Suzanne English, executive director for mission advancement for Our Lady of Hope Province, which oversees the 469 Felician sisters in about 60 convents around the U.S. and Canada.
“We grieve for each of our sisters who has passed during the time of the pandemic throughout the province, and we greatly appreciate all of those who are holding us in prayer and supporting us in a number of ways,” said Sister Mary Christopher Moore, provincial minister of Our Lady of Hope.
Forty-four sisters now live at the Michigan convent, down from 57 in April, English said. Felician sisters may move among the convents as they accept new ministry assignments.
Across the U.S., many facilities that house or care for the elderly have been ravaged by the virus.
To help slow the spread of the virus, Felician Sisters of North America has put in place protocols that include bans on visitors, the replacement of in-person Mass with livestream services, and the elimination of communal dining and other group activities.
Several sisters in the order who have had COVID-19 are still recovering from a variety of effects, including continuing weakness and respiratory issues, English said.