19 March 2020
Dear Sisters and Partners-in-Mission,
My warmest greetings to you all. I write to you on this celebration of St. Joseph, the patron saint of the Universal Church, families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, and working people in general. May we see the grace of God working in this shared Lenten experience of the crisis of the Coronavirus and Covid-19.
Thank you for your love and prayer in this very trying period impacting the whole world. In all your missions in your various parts of the world, you have been and continue to be a great source of hope and inspiration for many. Your selfless acts of service save and improve the lives of countless others, being a true exemplar of our charism in action.
Now is such a time in our history that our working in unity towards our greater mission will shape our journey together. How we act, what we say, the way we treat one another, the heart with which we respond, will be recounted by generations to come. As an Institute, our position on the pandemic of COVID-19 is one of faith and action. We place our trust in the Heart of Jesus in in the loving intercession of Mother Cabrini on our behalf. We also take the necessary steps to ensure that we care for the whole of humanity. At the Generalate we have been taking pro-active measures and following national decrees, and are sure you are doing same. I realize that you may be experiencing many different forms of challenges in your various parts of the world and the General Council and I stand in solidarity with you.
In terms of action, we are asking you at this time to:
- Play your part in stopping the virus:
- Wash your hands often (use soap and water for at least 20 seconds);
- Avoid unnecessary close contact with others, as far as possible avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you must touch your eyes, nose and mouth, wash your hands or sanitize them before and after;
- Cover your cough or sneeze. Cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash or sanitize your hands;
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects (including your mobile phone) and surfaces. Routinely clean your personal space, such as workstations (including phones and keyboards), countertops and doorknobs;
- If your employees are coming into work, please provide adequate hand sanitizer at workstations;
- Rather opt for virtual and teleconference meetings e.g. via Skype or Zoom;
- Stay at home when you feel unwell and seek medical advice early (especially if you display the symptoms of a fever, cough, or cold). The same applies to anyone who is returning from travel.
- In many of your countries there will be a national health help line, please to contact them for information on testing and for other measures taken within your country.
- Remain peaceful and spread wisdom: We need to share reliable, factual information with friends and family, and counter voices of fear and stigmatization with love and compassion. Please fact check all your information against reliable sources such as the information published by the World Health Organization https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus). We need to counter fear with truth and in love.
- Protect the vulnerable: We should continue to offer love and assistance to those who need it most, and support humane policies to keep them safe.
- Stay connected: Please continue to communicate with your Provincial and Regional leadership structures and ensure you keep them updated as to how you and your ministries are doing.
At this time we think of the frontline medical workers, those who have lost loved ones, children who are unable to attend schools, people who may stand to lose their employment or businesses, refugees and immigrants in vulnerable situations, those living on the streets or in poverty conditions, and those who may be stranded or alone at a time like this. We continue to lift these people up and to find ways to support them, especially during this Lenten time of remembering the death and resurrection of our Lord.
There are many sobering realities that we are encountering and learn of daily and that we are asking for your prayer and thoughts for. Our hearts extend to our Sisters and Brothers in other congregations, especially in Northern Italy, where many of their elderly members have contracted the coronavirus and with many having died. At the time of writing this letter three of our Sisters are hospitalized at our Sacred Heart assisted care facility in Lower Manhattan (New York) with compromised respiratory systems. We see the grace upon our institution as all our Sisters in Codogno remain uninfected. The challenge is our Sisters who require medical treatment for other illnesses and they are not able to get ordinary care.
We declare that Easter, a time of the celebration of resurrection life, is nearly here. Easter is upon us! We have been through so many challenges as an Institute over the past nearly 140 years since our courageous foundress set sail to New York for the first time in 1880. Over the years we have faced great wars, internal conflict, disease, and many other trials, and yet we have always overcome. In the next few weeks we will be running a series on Cabrini World (website and social media) recalling our heroines, lest we forget at this time all that we have been through before.
We have heard testimonies from different parts of the world of people showing acts of kindness especially to the elderly, and In Italy we have seen videos shared of people singing to each other from their balconies. Hope remains alive in the human spirit!
We also encourage you to post messages of hope and inspiration, both from the past and from what you are witnessing or partaking in now. There are many ways and forms that our mission will be extended through you at this time. Please tag us @cabriniworld with your stories so we can encourage and build one another up.
In our 2016 Chapter mandates we are called to be both human and humanizing. This is a prophetic cry for such a time as now. Please continue to hold each other in your prayers, you are in my prayers, and know, above all, “We can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Philippians 4v13)”.
United in the mission of being the bearers of the love of Christ,
Sr. Barbara Staley, MSC
Read the letter in
ENGLISH: St. Joseph letter 2020 ENG
ITALIAN: St. Joselph letter 2020 ITA
SPANISH: St. Joseph letter 2020 SPA
PORTUGUESE: St. Joseph letter 2020 POR