‘I Want to Be With My Sisters’ | Sojourners

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Three Felician Catholic sisters play a board game together, all wearing masks.

Sister Gloria Cote and Sister Claire Robert at St. Chretienne retirement home in Marlborough, Mass. / Craig F. Walker / The Boston Globe

‘I Want to Be With My Sisters’

Navigating COVID-19 separation in a Felician Catholic community.
By Mary Elizabeth Mackowiak

Mary Elizabeth Mackowiak, a Felician Catholic sister, lives with her community near Buffalo, N.Y., and is a spiritual director and grief counselor. She spoke with Sojourners' Jenna Barnett.

“I WOKE UP one morning and noticed a sign on everybody’s door: ‘Stay in your room.’ So, we got on the phone and called each other. We found out COVID-19 was in the house. Six sisters had it throughout the convent.

It was a time of a lot of fear. There was no ritual—things we’ve been doing for over a hundred years. We could not have daily Mass. We could not even go to our chapel. We had Thanksgiving alone in our rooms.

For Christmas, the sister who was the coordinator of the house suggested that we write Christmas cards to all the sisters in the care center. It was a lot of writing, but it was wonderful because we felt like it was giving them a little visit. We were finding ways to lift spirits.

I do grief support groups connected with the parish where I minister. They found out it was my birthday and created a parade of 20-some cars with balloons coming out of the windows, tooting their horns, waving, singing. One guy knew I was turning 76, so in his car he played ‘76 Trombones.’

All of a sudden, I had time. I had more time, above all, to pray.

We’re holding our breath [for the vaccine]. We know that it’s going to be soon. The number one thing I’m looking forward to upon vaccination is being able to celebrate in our chapel. I want to be with my sisters. I want to gather the grief support group.

Liminal space is exactly where the world is right now. When we are in a liminal space, we have no control. We can’t go backward; we can’t go forward. That’s the only time that God has full control.

Liminal time is God’s time, it’s a kairos time. What is this calling us to become?”
 

Mary Elizabeth Mackowiak is a Felician Catholic sister, spiritual director, and grief counselor.