News and Events
Response to COVID-19 Crisis
In Seoul Province, various meetings and trainings were canceled due to the coronavirus, such as: the meetings of Friends of St. Paul, the training of the Local Superiors, and the meetings for vocation promotion. Two annual retreats scheduled in March, were also postponed. The Mass that was usually open to the public, Bible studies, and counseling sessions were temporarily suspended. Communion during the Sunday Mass was limited to receiving the Body of Christ, without the consecrated wine.
In February, a case of COVID-19 was reported at the Eunpyeong St. Mary’s Hospital where our Sisters are serving. As a protocol, the hospital was shut down from February 21 to March 8 and the Sisters underwent self-quarantine during that time.
The Seoul Province donated a sum of money as a token of consolation to the staff of the Eunpyeong St. Mary’s Hospital, coupled with our expressions of solidarity and prayers. Our Sisters made and delivered homemade “gimbap” or lunch boxes to express our gratitude to the medical staff of selected medical centers, for their dedication and heroic service.
Since the end of February, the number of confirmed cases have rapidly increased in Korea, and a two-week social distancing campaign had been implemented nationwide.
In compliance to the Administrative Order of the Korean government, the convent kitchen staff were self quarantined for 15 days. During this period, the Sisters prepared their own food and refrained from going out to prevent any contact from outside.
As the number of confirmed cases increased, we felt the need to pray even more. Since February 21, our community had been continually praying a “prayer for those who suffer from the coronavirus” composed by our Sisters.
Source: Paulinian Echoes, Easter 2020 N. 183
Response to COVID-19 Crisis
On January 20, 2020, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 occurred in Korea, and over 2,000 people were infected within a month. In particular, the Daegu and Gyeongbuk areas— where the SPC Daegu convent is located—were hard hit. Seventy-one per cent (71%) of the 8,897 confirmed cases were concentrated in these areas as of March 23.
Since “Ash Wednesday,” the Korean Catholic Church has expressed concern over COVID19, which spreads faster than SARS and MERS. As a consequence, the Catholic Church starting with the Daegu Archdiocese, has banned all masses and gatherings of the faithful at the parish churches, schools, and religious orders.
It has already been a month since the main entrance of the convent was closed to the public. Moreover, as everyday life collapsed in the danger of what was then an epidemic and now has been designated as a pandemic, an economic crisis quickly emerged, with the poor and sick experiencing desperation and strife. As a result, the mood of the society as a whole became depressed and anxious. These circumstances have motivated sisters to actively cooperate with national government measures to protect the safety of the public by preventing fatal community infection. In this article, we would like to share the strategic decisions we made for the safety of the provincial house community in Daegu—where the sisters with cancer and chronic diseases, and elderly sisters all live together.
First of all, to prevent the infection from spreading within the convent, we refrained from going out. When it is necessary, we go out with utmost precautionary measures. In the liturgy and in our prayer life, the sisters attend the Mass wearing masks in the provincial house, and outsiders were not allowed to join. The Divine Office, Meditation and the Stations of the Cross were prayed in private. Eucharistic adoration is done by turns, individually in the chapel. Above all, to quickly alleviate the current situation, we have intensified our personal prayer life, in addition to our communal prayers and sacrifices. Sisters in the parish church and in the provincial house whose apostolic activities have been temporarily stopped, had their personal annual retreat through Bible reading.
Secondly, we comply with personal hygiene recommendations suggested by the government. For instance, we maintain silence during all mealtimes and provided hand sanitizer and soap everywhere in the convent. Through proper handwashing and individual health management, wearing masks daily and covering our mouth with our sleeve when coughing, we strive for mutual consideration in the community.
Lastly, we made cloth masks and distributed these to the poor and elderly people vulnerable to the infection. We also donated certain amount to support medical staff and vulnerable groups in local medical institutions.
Furthermore, we visited general medical institutions as well as Catholic hospitals and delivered handmade sweets, giving them our warm attention and encouragement.
We are missing and waiting with anticipation for the preciousness of everyday normal life, in which we carry out our apostolate inside and outside the convent. However, we find hope in our small sacrifices and prayers. Above all, the love and encouragement of SPC members all over the world, who are united in our concern and prayer for one another, give us the assurance that we will overcome these difficult times together.
Soon, spring will come!
Sr. Dominica JIN Ju-hyun
District of Switzerland
"Looking to the future, hoping, singing Easter song
in the middle of the night ..."
The lyrics of this Easter song have taken on a very special meaning in recent weeks.
Today, the 26th of March 2020, 172 countries and territories are affected by the Corona Virus; with 440,000 people sick, 20,600 deaths, and 3 billion people are confined to their homes. The immediate and future social consequences are far reaching.
How does this resonate in us, SPC, whose Congregational history and our own personal life stories are marked with the Paschal Mystery?
How does it resonate in us who are called “like Him, to put on the apron, to serve out of love, to be a sign of the Kingdom, bread of His presence, sign of hope and tenderness” as a song from Holy Thursday says?
No doubt, each one contemplates these questions and tries to humbly answer them in her daily life, whether it be in quarantine or confined to her community, suffering in a hospital bed or a retirement home, or those at the bedside of patients like care givers, chaplains, and others, or those awaiting repatriation to their country, etc.
Switzerland, like all the countries in Asia and Europe especially Italy (soon America, Africa and Oceania) is also severely affected by this microscopic enemy. Like their neighbors, the Sisters too are not spared from the situation.
In their daily lives, each community with their own spiritual resources and creativity, must face the reality and respond to the various needs, by mutual encouragement, assuming day by day their professional responsibilities in caring for elderly Sisters, those in the retirement home, as well as the patients in the hospital and through online work.
A Sister prepares meals for elderly neighbors who live alone.
The ways to help our neighbors are many and varied, such as: enquiring after their welfare, giving them news updates, doing the shopping or preparing meals for the elderly who are vulnerable or isolated in the building or the neighborhood. A simple task of taking out their rubbish bins can be an immense help.
In all of this, what about prayer life? It is renewed, and intensely revitalized. The community and parish ties are strengthened and have taken a very particular depth and intensity in the invisible communion of hearts, Communion of the Saints, supported by the daily Masses on the radio or televised (such as, that of the Holy Father every morning at 7 a.m. from Rome) and by all means imaginable which serve only to nourish the faith and hope of all.
“Looking to the future, hoping, singing Easter in the middle of the night …”, this is how we try to be like Him: witnesses of His Passion, of His Resurrection, of His compassionate presence, of His comforting tenderness, alongside all those whose lives we share daily, close in the Communion of the Saints and with all our Sisters who do the same in all the other continents. Happy Easter to all!
– Sr Veronique VALLAT and the SPC Sisters in Switzerland.