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Cloistered Nuns: Pray, hope, and make face masks


Dominican Nuns of Summit

Jeffrey Bruno - published on 03/27/20

See how the Dominican nuns of Summit are pitching in to help healthcare workers.

In Summit, New Jersey, the hills are alive with the sound of sewing. The Dominican nuns at Our Lady of the Rosary Monastery have taken up needle and thread to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. Their task? Making face masks.

With the shortages of face masks for healthcare workers around the nation, agencies and hospitals have been scrambling for supplies, and now are looking to the public for assistance.

Nuns always have fabric scraps lying around, waiting for the perfect project. Well, making face masks is the perfect project now.

Sr. Joseph Mary O.P. explained how this came about, “Our local hospital sent an email to local residents informing us of the shortage of personal protective equipment and asking for help. They even included a YouTube video of how to make a face mask. Since most of the nuns know how to sew (a skill that’s usually taught to us in the novitiate), we thought this would be a perfect project for us. Because we sew most of what we wear (habits, veils, guimpes, aprons, etc.) we have plenty of scraps to spare. We’re happy to be able to do this for our health care workers: sewing face masks and praying for all those who will be using them.”

And in a statement on Facebook, they said:

“During the coronavirus (COVID-19) health emergency, personal protective equipment (PPE) is in critical supply. Face masks, a needed type of PPE, help protect health care workers from droplets that may be expelled by a cough or sneeze as they interact with people seeking care. Nuns always have fabric scraps lying around, waiting for the perfect project. Well, making face masks is the perfect project now. All health care workers and everyone affected by the recent virus are in our prayers.”

With material on hand and the instructions provided by the Atlantic Health System, they have been hard at work creating these lifesaving masks.

Religious women have a long history of ministering to the needs of the sick and dying. St. Marianne Cope and Mother Teresa cared for those with leprosy and other illnesses. Mother Mary Odilia Berger nursed those suffering with smallpox, earning her and her Order the nickname “The Smallpox Sisters.” And Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini directly cared for those with yellow fever, in addition to founding several hospitals. Those are just a few from what would be an endless list.

As the world struggles to find its way through the pandemic, it’s reassuring to know that people of all walks of life are finding creative ways to end the scourge of this disease.

For information on how to make face masks, visit: Facemask Instructions

To learn more about the Dominican Nuns of Summit, visit: Summit Dominicans

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