The greater the suffering, the greater the solidarity

Author: Ana Elídia C. Neves, SSpS
Subject: SSpS witness to the pandemic
Language: English, Spanish
An SSpS in Oruro Bolivia

The Spirit of real service is reflected in the SSpS belief that in small and large actions that they do, they do it with a missionary spirit. Sister Ana Elidia Caffer Neves, SSpS, a member of the Congregational Communication Team, shows us how our Sisters find new paths of solidarity. They continuously respond to the question: “What contribution does the Spirit want from us today in this global crisis?”

For us, SSpS, along with all of humanity, the COVID-19 pandemic is deconstructing everything that we had organized. It made us mobilize to find other ways of living the mission, community life, spirituality, and relationships. We are called to be creative and respond to the call, “What contribution does the Spirit want from us today in this global crisis?” We are also challenged to find new paths of solidarity and to transform ourselves internally.

In this scenario, we are discerning how to carry out our 15th General Chapter, postponed because of the pandemic. We are following with concern about how the Sisters are taking care of themselves since many of us are elderly. We support each other by praying. To be inspired by solidarity from different countries, we published an internal electronic newsletter – SSpS E-Bulletin: COVID-19. This is the space where the Sisters can share their experiences, concerns, or even confidential information in private. It comes once or twice a week.

In all SSpS communities, we respect the rules of social isolation and distancing, and we adapt the personal and community routine to take care of each other. In the face of this bleak situation, we intensified our prayers. In several provinces, the Sisters take turns so that there is always someone in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Holy Mass, for most, is only on television or social networks.

Within our possibilities, we take on with a missionary spirit the small and large actions that we can do, which for some is to pray for the sick and health professionals. In pastoral areas, different apostolates, and social works, the Sisters are unable to bring people together and open doors. They continue their mission using communication technology to listen, encourage, and provide concrete help when necessary.

In all countries where we serve, our most significant concern is with the poorest, the homeless, the unemployed, women in vulnerable situations, the elderly, and the sick. In the Provinces of India, South Korea, the Philippines, several in Latin America and Africa, there are reports on the work of distributing food and sanitizing kits. In many places, hunger is the daily reality of daily-wage laborers, who suddenly lost their jobs. Thousands of families survive, thanks to the solidarity of so many others who share what they have.

Sisters in health ministry are the most exposed to contagion. On the front line, they share with other professionals, especially in clinics and hospitals, their puzzlement at the impossibility of offering the necessary treatment. The number of Sisters involved in making masks to protect people is significant.

Schools had to adapt suddenly to the demands of social distancing and teaching online. Even the most technologically prepared are facing significant challenges as the dynamics completely change. Families are also suffering from anguish, insecurity, and fear. The Sisters, with the teams of educators, realize that in addition to creating new learning processes and managing the financial crisis, they also need to emotionally support professionals, families, and students through online meetings.

In the midst of all this, we are very grateful to the Society of the Divine Word for being true brothers to us. In most countries we work in partnership, undertaking joint projects, supporting, and being present in our services and communities. In some cases, we share resources such as the Coronavirus Emergency Fund in Ghana, which helps feed the “porter girls” in the Madina Market.

We testify that the greater the suffering, the greater the solidarity. We have the hope of overcoming this pandemic. We will come out stronger and more aware because everything is interconnected, we are one family, and we need each other.

Sr. Ana Elidia Caffer Neves, SSpS
Member-Congregational Communication Team

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