The Missionary Oblate Sisters of Mary Immaculate, are a young Religious Institute that came into existence in Spain in 1997, when nine women came together to live in community with the intention of following St. Eugene de Mazenod and the footsteps of his sons. Therefore, they make up a part of the greater Oblate Family. As women consecrated to God, they live the same charism as the Oblates: “To bring the Good News to the poor.”
By Sr. Paulina Gosch OMI
Spain is currently struggling with the terrifying spiral of COVID-19 cases caused by the coronavirus. According to the charism of St. Eugene, Oblate missionaries are committed to helping the sick, the dying and their families.
“Each of our communities supports the fight against the epidemic through prayer, but two of our sisters are directly involved in helping the sick,” says Sr. Pauline Gosch OMI.
Oblates on the front line
Sr. Katharina Ramrath OMI deals with formation of the candidates of the Congregation on a daily basis. She comes from Germany. At present, when Spain is struggling with a growing number of people infected with coronavirus and, at the same time, there is a shortage of medical personnel, Sister Katharina shares her congregational duties with service to the most needy. Given the number of patients reported, tests to detect the presence of the virus genotype are carried out only on the most serious patients. The medical history and conversations with the sick are also an opportunity to pray and to life them up – to proclaim the Good News and to raise confidence in God’s providence.
Hospitals are already overcrowded and the medical services are slowly losing effectiveness. The halls where trade fairs were normally held have now been transformed into field hospitals. The doctors and support staff are overworked. It is difficult to control the situation. According to data provided on Twitter by the Spanish Ministry of Health, the worst situation is in the Autonomous Community of Madrid.
“The situation is difficult, but we try to bring hope,” says Sr. Katharina with a determined voice.
Loneliness and hope
The tragedy of the current pandemic also consists in the feeling of loneliness and uncertainty of the patients’ families. Highly contagious diseases require total isolation. This leads to the loss of real, live contact with loved ones, which is extremely important in the struggle for recovery. Given the number of cases and deaths and the fear that it had created, loneliness is becoming a frightening reality.
Sr. Victoria Romero OMI works daily in a hospital and accompanies patients in their illness. She is currently the only link between coronavirus patients and their families, who cannot see their loved ones. When they are brought to the hospital, they have to face the fact that they may never see them again. Patients feel very lonely.
People do not get sick only physically. Moreover, not only does the human body experience fear; it is also a complex sphere composed of spirit and soul… In the face of the pandemic we are experiencing, which Spain is currently facing, questions arise in people about hope, about God, about the meaning of life… In this case, the presence of the clergy and consecrated religious should not be overestimated. The Oblate Sisters simply live their charism. They are there where it is most difficult, where people “call for hope and salvation which only Christ can offer in fullness” (Constitutions and Rules, 5).