8 nuns in same retirement home die of COVID within one week of each other

December 19, 2020
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    A retirement home in Wisconsin is suffering a huge loss after eight nuns died of COVID-related illnesses within a week of each other.

    The deaths happened at Notre Dame of Elm Grove.

    "Every one of our sisters is really important," Sister Debra Sciano, the provincial leader of the School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province, told WTMJ. "Not only to us, but we feel they have touched thousands of lives we'll never be aware of.

    All of the sisters, who were mentors in the community for many years, died within days of each other, according to Trudy Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province.

    “It was quite a shock in a short amount of time,” Ms. Hamilton added.

    Sisters Rose M. Feess, 91, and Mary Elva Wiesner, 94, died on December 9, per the home’s obituary. Their deaths were followed by Dorothy MacInture, 880, and Sister Mary Alexius Portz, 96.

    Sisters Joan Emily Kaul, 95, Lillia Langreck, 92, and Michael Marie Laux, 90, died on Monday, while Sister Cynthia Borman, 90, died on Tuesday.

    According to CNN, the facility was first used as an orphanage for children in 1859 before being converted into a residence for elderly and sick sisters.

    It is currently home to 88 nuns, some of whom have also contracted the virus, Sciano said.

    "They are receiving wonderful care," she explained, adding, "They're doing well right now. We're hopeful that they will get through this.

    Experts warn that the sisters were considered “high-risk” as older populations are more vulnerable to the novel virus.

    The outlet noted that they all lived communally, which allowed for easier transmission from person-to-person.

    Wisconsin has seen a consistent uptick in cases with 482,443 cases and 4,566 deaths since the onset of the pandemic, per a New York Times database.

    The deaths come a few months after 13 members in the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice, or Felician Sisters in Livonia, Michigan died from COVID. They ranged in age from 69 to 99 years old.

    Additionally, in May, six nuns died from the virus at Our Lady of the Angels Convent, in Greenfield, Wisconsin.

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