SCJM News update on Covid-19 / 29.03.2020

All of us had our wonderful plans for the months and the year ahead; but we now realise that the Lord had another one!

The coronavirus forces us to stop, to think, to reflect, to listen, to change… The silence that envelops us and the restrictions on movements and outdoor activities oblige us to remain inside – an invitation to go deep within, to turn inwards…

The SCJM family, as also our brothers and sisters, the world over today is living through the impact of lockdown, enforced by our governments and civil authorities, to control and contain the pandemic of Covid-19. Nevertheless, according to the reports coming in from our provinces and regions, the cases of Covid-19 are on the rise and everyone is required to meet this pandemic head-on:

  • The lockdown continues here in Belgium and we do everything possible to protect ourselves and others from the disease. Outing continues to be limited to get the essentials: food, medicine….
    • Of the two confirmed cases among our elderly Sisters reported earlier, one is getting better and while it is a fluctuating situation for the second one. Now, we have a third confirmed case who is also hospitalised.
    • Among the health-care supporters of our Sisters, there is an increasing number of confirmed and suspected cases. This is an alarming situation for obvious reasons.
    • As you know, during the last one week two elderly sisters here in Europe and one relatively young sister in Congo have left us for their eternal abode. I wish to add here that these deaths are unrelated to Covid-19.
    • As of today, Belgium reports a total of 10 836 Covid-19 cases and 431 deaths.
  • Our student sisters in Italy and France report that, though their surrounding situation is disturbing, their studies continue on-line and that they are as well as can be in the given situation.
  • Africa seemed relatively free from the virus but, apparently, it was only a matter of time. According to the information coming in from our sisters, the number of cases is on the rise. Restrictions issued by the governments do not seem to have the desired effect as people continue moving about, particularly in market places, which is the life-line for the majority of the people in each country. A shoot-at-sight order in Rwanda of anyone disobeying the orders of the government keep people in out of fear. Even then, there are reports of aberrations.
  • Our sisters in the Asian countries witness a rising number of cases in their respective countries and stricter measures are being introduced to curb the spread.
    • The two student-sisters from Sri Lanka at EAPI in Manila are stranded. Manila being cut off from the rest of the country and world, they have neither any means to get out nor to be brought out by anyone else. Fortunately, the Institute lets them stay on and they are well.
    • In Sri Lanka, curfew is in force and anyone violating orders can be arrested.
    • A nation-wide lockout in India seems to be creating a kind of exodus of migrant workers in the cities rushing back to their villages on foot. The labourers living on daily wages in the cities and towns, and the home-less are the worst-hit by this lockdown in the country. Given the density of the population, the authorities are overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem. What is worse, the country is far from being prepared to address a pandemic disease such as Covid-19.

In this prevailing situation of ‘darkness’ what is getting stronger in the Congregation is the spirit of solidarity. I feel touched by the calls and messages coming in from various parts of the Congregation inquiring about our sisters in other provinces / regions and countries. Besides, there is a concerted effort everywhere to intensify our appeal to the Lord in various forms of prayer, personal and as a community, who alone can change the course of events unleashed by the virus. Let us remain united in the Lord during these difficult times!

Let us also make use of this occasion with its inherent potentials:

  • To focus on the essentials of life
  • To use the means we have at our disposal (e.g. the smart phone) to send / forward only messages that can be proactive and up-building as signs of our solidarity and support
  • To acknowledge, value and appreciate the front-liners of this pandemic and pray for them:
    • Our health-care supporters who risk their lives to protect and save those of others
    • Our government leaders whose alertness and wisdom can steer the course of events
    • Our medical professionals, researchers & scientists whose hard work and insight can create a treatment to stop the virus
    • Our spiritual leaders whose intuition and discernment can strengthen us during this time on insecurity and uncertainty
    • Our civic leaders for inspiration, courage and strength to meet the needs of their communities
    • The employees of stores that are still open to us, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers…

May God help each one of us SCJMs to display courage, hope, generosity, and kindness to all those around us!

Sr. Lucy Jacob

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