Nuns by day, nurses by night: Servants of Mary undeterred by pandemic

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Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick
“We're religious nurses. We all study nursing to have the preparation necessary to help the sick with everything they need. It can be a serious illness, a contagious disease, and we can administer both intramuscular and intravenous medication.”

They're the Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick, founded in Spain in 1851 by Mother Maria Soledad Torres. 

“We normally pay a visit to the family at the sick person's home to gauge his or her condition, to see if it's a very serious case or something minor. The mother superior decides which sister to send.”

Not even the coronavirus pandemic could stop them from carrying out their daunting mission in Rome.

“Mother Soledad gave us the mantra: caring for the sick, charity and seeing Christ in the sick. Seeing their need, we couldn't withdraw into ourselves. So yes, we had some fear, but we went out. We went out every night to care for our sick.”

Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick
“We just saw Ms. Pina, who is 92 years old. She's a widow. She has a son, but his health isn't great either, so he can't visit her regularly. We've been following up with her for a while with therapy and injections to her foot, because she has an ulcer there that's sometimes very painful.”

Then it's back into the traffic of Rome and off to another patient's home, to bring not only physical, but psychological and spiritual support.

Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick
“When we listen to them and try to understand their problems and struggles, their sense of peace is even greater. So sometimes, it isn't even necessary to say thank you. A simple smile or gesture assures us that they will spend the night well.”

Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick
“We're going to visit Ms. Cecilia. She's been sick for the last 47 years. FLASH but right now she's doing pretty well.”

“The unique aspect of the charisma is that we go to the patients' homes, so that the sick can remain in their own bedrooms, with their belongings, with everything they've always had and known. Since we're nurses, we can give them whatever care they need.”

Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick
“At the end of the night, we finish our shift, a little tired, but we go home happy because we've accomplished our mission as Servants of Mary. When we return home, the first thing we do is go to the church to celebrate the Eucharist together. Together we thank God for the beautiful charisma given to us by Mother Soledad.”

With a joy no less exceptional than the demanding work they complete six days a week, these exemplars of selfless courage continue to demonstrate to the sick and their families that they are not alone in their struggles.


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