COVID-19 Kills 13 Sisters in Michigan Convent: “It Went Through Like Wildfire”

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Courtesy of the Felician Sisters / ChurchPOP

Pray for these sisters!

Thirteen Felician sisters in The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent in Livonia, Michigan died from COVID-19, a recent report reveals. Twelve of those sisters died within one month, between April 10 and May 10. The other sister died at the end of June.

Additionally, 17 other sisters in the convent contracted the virus and recovered.

The deceased sisters’ ages ranged between 69-99. Fifty-seven sisters lived in the Michigan convent before the pandemic.

Many of the sisters were teachers. One sister was also a librarian, another was an organist, and another was a nurse. One of the sisters also served as the secretary at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. The sisters dedicated their lives in service of others, particularly in education and medicine.

The sisters founded Madonna University, a Montessori School,  St. Mary Child Care Center, Angela Hospice and Marywood Nursing Care Center, and the all-female Ladywood High School (1960-2018).

The first death came on Good Friday, and 12 more followed through the month.

When the virus hit the convent, “it went through like wildfire,”  convent superior Sr. Mary Andrew Budinski said.

“They weren’t giving us numbers,” she added. “Just every day, they’d say, ‘Another sister.’ ‘Another sister.’ ‘Another sister.’ It was very frightening.”

Clinical Health Services Director Sr. Noel Marie Gabriel of the Felician Sisters of North America told the outlet that they “went through the motions of doing what we had to do, but that month was like a whole different way of life.”

“That was our most tragic time. It was a month of tragedy and sorrow and mourning and grieving,” Sr. Gabriel said.

One other Felician sister also recently died. She lived in the Lodi, New Jersey convent, totaling 14 deaths within the Felician order.

The sisters remain vigilant in preventing the virus’ spread through social distancing and other convent restrictions. The sisters cannot even attend each others’ funerals.

Felician Sisters’ Provincial Minister Sr. Mary Christopher Moore, CSSF, told ChurchPOP that the order is “still very much dealing with the loss of so many sisters.”

She said the sisters normally “share stories about the sister we have lost…the night before the funeral” and hold a funeral Mass the following day. However, Sr. Moore said “we have been unable to do so.”

“A single sister could be at the graveside, and others could come to the cemetery, one to a car, but it was not the same,” Sr. Moore said. “We look forward to being able to hold a celebration of each of their lives, with their family members, as we are able.”

Sr. Mary Andrew Budinski also said she contracted the virus and survived.

“I really thought I was going to die,” Sr. Andrew told Global Sisters Report. “I surrendered to that. I said, ‘God, if you’re going to take me, I’m ready.’ Then I woke up the next morning and I was still alive. Then somehow, I got better.”

She also said she “gets chills” thinking about the day the sisters can meet again as a group, because “the raw grief is yet to come.”

Click here to view the sisters’ obituaries.

Lord, please have mercy on the Felician sisters!

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