By Paul Tatu

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

The passing away of nine sisters of the Daughters of St Francis recently as a result of Covid-19, is a very painful reminder that though we are at alert level 1, the scourge of Covid-19 is yet to lessen its devastation to communities and society at large.  In fact, the level 1 alert is more to create conditions for the functioning of the economy so that people can survive than it is an indication of a reduced level of infection.

The Sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary have also had twenty of their members infected with Covid-19 in the last two weeks. Three of the sisters were hospitalized, two have since been discharged.  This is a clear indication that during this so-called “second wave”, by most accounts, the virus appears to be more infectious and lethal than in the first wave.

The Leadership Conference of Consecrated Life (LCCL) in conjunction with the Southern African Catholic Bishops (SACBC) take this tragic moment to call for vigilance to all South Africans and to Religious Congregations and Priests in particular.  We urge all Religious Congregations and communities to be extra vigilant and cautious during this very deadly Second Wave of the pandemic as none of us is immune to this pandemic.

As religious, community life is the essence of our religious life, as most of our life revolves around community and coming together for prayers, meals, professions, ordinations, Chapters, masses, recreations, etc. However, these key occasions of our witnessing are guaranteed occasions for the virus to spread and infect others.  We, therefore, call for a prudent relook at these activities and to put sentiments of “we always do it this way and at this time” aside in order to protect everyone concerned, especially the elderly and those with chronic conditions.  It is in our hands to protect each other.

During these unprecedented times, we need to continue adhering to the safety protocols of Covid-19 prevention and containment as without a vaccine, we are our own best defense against the virus.

In light of the above, the LCCL and SACBC leadership jointly make a plea to all major superiors in the conference, to suspend all gatherings until the viciousness of this virus significantly diminishes.  We further urge the Priests entrusted with the pastoral care of people to continue adhering to the safety directives given by their bishops.

Issued 22 December 2020

  1. Sr Nkhensani Shibambu CSA – LCCL President
  2. +Sithembele Sipuka – SACBC President

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