Eight nuns in their 80s and 90s passed away within a week after coronavirus spread through their retirement home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Sisters Mary Elva Wiesner,94, and Rose M. Feess, 91, died at Notre Dame of Elm Groove on December 9. Only two days later, sister Dorothy Maclntyre, 88, passed away.
Siter Mary Alexius Portz, 96, died on December 13, and Sisters Lillia Langreck, Cynthia Borman, Michael Marie Laux, and Joan Emily Kaul all died the following day.
For the last nine months, the congregation that runs the retirement home had been free of coronavirus. But on Thanksgiving Day, they discovered that one of the nuns who live there had tested positive for Covid-19.
“Even though they’re older and most of the sisters that did go to God are in their late 80s, 90s… we didn’t expect them to go so, so quickly,” Sister Debra Marie Sciano, the leader for School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province, expressed.
“So it was just very difficult for us.”
She said the congregation put nuns who tested positive into isolation so they would have no contact with other sisters.
Meals are brought to them as they are advised to remain in their rooms.
But despite efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, more sisters tested positive, Sciano said.
A spokesperson for the Waukesha County Department of Health & Human Services, Linda Wickstrom, said county disease investigators have been working with the congregation since School Sisters of Notre Dame called them in November.
“Given the extreme contagiousness of this virus, it is exceedingly important for congregate settings to practice basic protocols to stop the spread of the disease,” she said.
The School Sisters of Notre Dame have been washing hands frequently, disinfecting high-touch surfaces, wearing face coverings, and social distancing.
“We believe that each of these sisters, and and all the sisters, really, they’ve made a difference in this world,” Sciano said.
“I just think it´s important that people know that, and that they were committed up until the end of their lives.”
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