Covid-19 Update: Italy

As of 31st March 2020

We joyfully welcome Barbara’s invitation to communicate as ONE BODY with the whole international Society about how we are living this time of great emergency here in Italy.

As we all know because of the news that is broadcasted by the media throughout the world, our country is one of those with the greatest rate of infection and death.

The country is suffering a lot at all levels: health facilities are now working at a truly extraordinary pace. To date, 51 doctors (a former colleague of Luciana is sick) and more than an 50 priests have lost their lives, along with thousands of people throughout the country... We are all obliged to stay at home, and can only go out for reasons of absolute necessity. All commercial activities are paralyzed; only those that are providing essential services are in operation.

Economically, the country is suffering grave repercussions. The Catholic Church and other religious denominations have also adapted and decided to close places of worship and suspend all services. This Lent is strange without the celebration of Eucharist! We are able to participate in Holy Mass only on television! In the first weeks we suffered a lot from the lack of masks, diagnostic tests, and other medical devices. Many of our neighbouring countries thought that, as usual, the Italians were exaggerating.

Little by little, as the epidemic spread throughout the world, they realized that this was not the case. We greatly appreciate the solidarity of various countries —from China to Cuba (to name only two)— who have sent not only material goods, but also surgical equipment and many doctors. Some patients, not with coronavirus but with other serious diseases, are also being transferred to other countries in Europe.

We are learning to live in a new way. These days we hear a lot about the deaths of religious men and women, especially of elderly people who live in nursing homes.   These places are more prone to contagion due not only to the fragility of individuals, but also to the fact that many people live together and are necessarily cared for by secular staff. We realize, like never before, that life hangs by a thread.

What about us, RSCJ? We are living in a surreal situation to say the least. Our provincial, Rita Crivelli, is locked down in France. Each one of us is confined in our houses. We try to communicate among ourselves and with others by all possible means.

Rome - Villa Lante:

Rita has connected with the community of the Villa Lante by Zoom videoconference and says that the sisters are fine, though it is not easy for them. They are thinking about the other sisters and their families. They are rooted in prayer. They have organized the times when they will be together and when they remain alone. They take turns preparing meals. Florence works at home and helps them.

Avigliana, Villa Peschiera, Palermo Buon Pastore:

Luciana reports that she is aware of the situation in Villa Peschiera, where sisters are in bed. It is impossible to know if they are positive or not because the doctors do not do testing. In Avigliana, for now (and she underlines for now), no one has suspicious symptoms.  A few days ago, she spoke to Laura and Giovannella, who gave her good news from Palermo. The problem is that our communities of elderly sisters have personnel from outside who are therefore a possible source of infection, but obviously we cannot do anything else. At Villa Peschiera some employees are on sick leave, while in Avigliana, for now, no. Let's hope for the best...

Antonella speaks frequently with the Palermo community who are guests at the Good Shepherd residence. She admits that it is hard for her to not be able to visit them, but for now we must follow the instructions given by the government. She is also in touch with Antonella Orlando and spoke two days ago with Maria Gaczol, who is in Agrigento and doing well.


From Padua, Angelina reports: “At present, those of us in the community, as well as the boarders, are fine. At home with us in the boarding school are fifteen boarders, including two teachers who have stayed. They are waiting for the school and university to re-open and are hoping to take their exams. The majority of the girls were at home because second semester classes had not yet begun while others had gone home for Carnival vacations and were to return for the beginning of classes. Given the latest decree, no one is able to move from Padua, not even if they wanted to go home to their parents. Two days ago the father of a lady from Enna died. He had been a heart patient and tested positive for the coronavirus. She is here because she attended the qualification course as a support teacher and had not yet finished her internship. Yesterday, her mother, whose condition appears to be less serious than that of her father, was also admitted to hospital; but she is now finding it difficult to get more news. Like the majority of Italians, we are complying with our duty: we stay at home, we pray, and we try to run the school as best as possible in this situation. Having the responsibility for the girls and not being young anymore, we can only “STAY AT HOME.”


Paola writes: "Here, everything is fine. The members of the Corso Europa community are doing well and the presence of Rita De Martino is a great help for the house and for going out shopping."

Naples Corso Europa:

Rita De Martino, from Naples (Corso Europa), sent us a brief article on an initiative taken at the school where she teaches. In addtion to educational activities, they have involved the families. Seeing the suffering of so many people who die alone, they proposed to recite a "Hail Mary" to Our Lady. Each person chooses a time to say the prayer, which is communicated to the others. In this way, there is always someone who recites the prayer for those who are dying. The person will thus not be alone. We will be spiritually close, at least with prayer, to all those who are facing this painful moment, certain that God the Father will make them feel His love. It is very important not to leave people alone in the last moment of their lives. I believe that none of us would wish that for herself.  So, even from a distance, we are united in accompanying our brothers and sisters and their families.

Naples Miano:

Paola Paoli: I, too, am fine. I am surrounded by very attentive neighbors who often leave outside my door excellent meals that they have prepared. I want to share my experience of being with San Egidio, distributing food to people who live on the street. I join them two days a week. From the headquarters of San Egidio in Naples, we go out in small groups to different areas where we know people gather. There are many — too many — and they are more afraid of hunger than the virus. They are also afraid of the cold now. Seeing the needs, I put out an appeal to families of the parish and neighborhood; many responded and I organized them according to the area where they live. Now, each time I go out, there is a group of 3-4 persons who prepare sandwiches in their homes, and at a certain time, they put these in front of their houses and I go to get them. I have an average of 50 sandwiches each time I go out — egg sandwiches, tuna, or cheese... everything, but pork. Last night a man from the parish also gave me 70 bottles of water; and another person gave me a lot of scarves and hats. In this time of sadness, fear, and pain that we are experiencing, it is good to see in people the desire for solidarity, the desire to do good for others. And, it is good to not only help others, but to help others be of help."

Though we are far from each other, we feel even closer. Solidarity grows, and there is more time to devote to prayer, reading, learning something new (like Zoom), and to relationships through the means that technology provides. We are discovering ourselves to be more human, more attentive to what is essential... and, something we would not have been able to achieve by other means, we realize that our cities are less polluted; we see dolphins approaching the coast of the country, and the air is cleaner.

In chapter VII of The Betrothed, Alessandro Manzoni said: “God never disturbs the joy of his children, except to prepare them for a greater and safer joy"... We are sure that from so much suffering, something good for the world will be born! Pray for Italy!“

Antonella Aloisi, in the name of the sisters of Italy