Eight nuns died from COVID-19 complications in the past week at a Wisconsin convent — four of whom died on the same day.
The convent, School Sisters of Notre Dame of Elm Grove, about 10 miles west of Milwaukee, said there were confirmed cases among the 88 sisters living at the facility, but did not specify the number, NBC affiliate TMJ4 reported.
Debra Sciano, provincial leader of the School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific, told the station the eight sisters were all educators and “role models” who dedicated their lives to the community.
“For me, these are wisdom figures — women I have known for all of my 40 plus years in the community,” she said. “Every one of our sisters is really important, not only to us, but they have touched a lot of lives we'll never be aware of.”
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The facility was first established as an orphanage, which later became a retirement home for elderly and ill sisters, according to the organization’s website.
Across the U.S., many nursing facilities for elderly people have been ravaged by the coronavirus.
The congregation said all the sisters followed public health guidelines outlined by the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention, including wearing masks, social distancing, and regular handwashing.
To help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the convent said it was isolating and testing the remaining sisters for COVID-19 twice a week.
The School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
The deaths came several months after 13 sisters died of COVID-19 at a Michigan convent, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Livonia, about 20 miles west of Detroit.
With less than a week before Christmas, Sciano said the congregation was celebrating with heavy hearts.
“Is there ever an easy time?” she said. “No, but trying to celebrate the lives of these women as we grieve their lives. They’ll be missed terribly.”