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The strangeness of our COVID-19 reality

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By Sister Marian Arroyo, Tamuning, Guam

The effect of the virus has tested the community in its care of others. Sisters on the frontlines of hospital and school ministries were wracked with the stress of keeping COVID-free or keeping their schools afloat. Our sister working in the operating room (OR) shared her sorrow of distancing and quarantining for fear of infecting fragile members of the community. The sisters in education shared the hardship of having to furlough staff and manage distance learning, the new normal in education at this time.

Three sisters received grant money from the GHR Foundation to be distributed to those severely affected by the pandemic. Ministry to the homeless has intensified. The Guam Community and Mercy Associates sponsored lunches for the OR department of Guam Memorial Hospital in support of and gratitude to the medical staff. Mask-making for our caregivers was a project at Mercy Heights Convent.

The dying and death of a sister during this pandemic brought out the strangeness of our COVID-19 reality. Funeral services were scaled down. No more than 10 could attend the burial. Thankfully, a creative solution was developed in which sisters, family and associates could participate via BlueJeans. “Community in prayer” during final preparations for burial (cremation) and our sister’s funeral engaged all the sisters on Guam in their respective convents.

This experience has indeed brought us back to a place of solitude, opening the door of Mercy to the heart of compassion, kindness and care. In the softness of these days, we can now hear the birds sing.