Coronavirus tore through an upstate New York convent in December, with dozens testing positive and at least nine nuns dying of Covid-19.
The outbreak occurred at St. Joseph’s Provincial House — a convent for retired and infirm nuns run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet — in Latham, New York, just outside of Albany.
A spokesperson for the order confirmed that 47 sisters tested positive and at least nine have died of Covid-19 in the final month of 2020, saying the convent had largely been spared throughout the year.
“At this time, three of our sisters living at the Provincial House are receiving treatment for the virus, and are under the care of their personal physicians,” Sr. Mary Rose Noonan wrote in an email to NBC News, adding that most of the nuns who tested positive have recovered. Twenty-one convent employees tested positive and recovered, while five remain in isolation, Noonan said.
“Like all members of our global community, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet have been struggling with the tragic consequences of COVID-19,” Noonan wrote, saying that they have been following all CDC and New York state safety guidelines.
“We pray the increasing number of cases across our country is temporary, and we mourn the loss not only of our sisters who have succumbed to this awful disease, but also the loss of all life during this pandemic around the world. We look forward to the vaccine and the end of this worldwide health crisis.”
Throughout the Christmas season, the Facebook page for the Albany chapter of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet was filled with death notices.
Covid outbreaks have plagued nursing homes and facilities like the Provincial House, where many older Catholic nuns spend their final years.
Eight Catholic nuns died in one Wisconsin convent last month, NBC News reported, with four passing on the same day.
“All of us … are praying for the Sisters during this challenging time,” said Mary DeTurris Poust, the director of communications for the Diocese of Albany.
“In addition to the loss of so many beloved Sisters who served others so selflessly for decades, there is the added difficulty of not being able to celebrate their lives as a community due to COVID restrictions. As for so many people who have lost loved ones in recent months, the already difficult task of grieving is made even more difficult by isolation and lack of closure.”