Eight Nuns Die of Coronavirus Within One Week at Wisconsin Retirement Home

Eight nuns at the Notre Dame of Elm Grove in Wisconsin died of Covid-19 in a week. From top left: Sister Cynthia Borman, Sister Rose M. Feess, Sister Joan Emily Kaul, Sister Lillia Langreck; from bottom left: Sister Dorothy MacIntyre, Sister Mary Alexius Portz, Sister Mary Elva Wiesner, Sister Michael Marie Laux

Eight nuns living at a retirement home for sisters in suburban Milwaukee died of COVID-19 complications in the last week, including four who passed away on the same day.

The first COVID-19 death at Notre Dame of Elm Grove happened on December 9, when Sisters Rose M. Feess, 91, and Mary Elva Wiesner, 94, died.

Sister Dorothy MacIntyre, 88, died on December 11 and Sister Mary Alexius Portz, 96, passed away on Sunday, according to the congregation’s website.

Sisters Cynthia Borman, Joan Emily Kaul, Lillia Langreck and Michael Marie Laux all died on Monday. Information on their ages was not available as of this writing, though they were all either in their 80s or 90s.

Notre Dame of Elm Grove had been free of the virus for the last nine months, but the congregation that runs the home found out on Thanksgiving Day that one of the roughly 100 sisters who live there had tested positive.

Despite social distancing and other mitigation efforts that were already in place, several more positive tests followed, said Sister Debra Marie Sciano, the provincial leader for School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province.

The first death happened last week, and the death announcements kept coming. Four of the eight nuns died on Monday alone.

‘Even though they’re older and most of the sisters that did go to God are in their late 80s, 90s… we didn’t expect them to go so, so quickly,’ Sciano said.

‘So it was just very difficult for us.’

Sciano said the congregation isolated sisters who tested positive into the same area so they would have no contact with others.

They are advised to stay in their rooms, where meals are brought to them.

Funerals and memorial services are being broadcast on closed-circuit TV.

Sciano declined to say how many other sisters have tested positive, citing the residents’ privacy.

The outbreak comes months after similar homes had reported multiple deaths from the coronavirus.

In July, 13 nuns died at a convent near Detroit and seven died at a center for Maryknoll sisters in New York.

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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Ariel Zilber; The Associated Press