Canossian Sisters find new ways to reach out to the community during this COVID-19 period

Leonard Leow

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent circuit-breaker period have impacted many people from all walks of life. For the Canossian Sisters, it was no different. Reaching out to people and ministering to them needed new approaches. The fervent faith and ingenuity of the Canossian Sisters led to them to new and innovative ways to minister to people at such a time.

In the first week of the circuit-breaker period, they enjoyed the bliss of a quieter life. By the second week, most of them learnt how to use ‘zoom’, a video conferencing platform. Since then, the Sisters have been occupied conducting online prayer meetings, spiritual direction, lectio divina, parish ministry meetings, and counselling especially to those who live alone or are facing family adversity.

Besides coming up with new approaches to minister to the community, the Canossian Sisters remain committed to living their vocation as Religious Sisters. This has become a time of profound reflection to understand God’s perspective of the pandemic and to offer many prayers for those who suffer and those who bravely fight for the lives of those affected by it.

When Sr Cecily learnt that Willing Hearts, a non-profit organisation which cooks and distributes a few thousand meals daily to the poor and vulnerable, needed help with its distribution, Sr Cecily decided to do her bit too.

With the stricter “circuit breaker” measures in force, it meant that the volunteers had to hang the packets of food at the gates of the residents instead of handing to them personally.

What touched Sr Cecily was that so many of the residents would be waiting for their meals with their front doors open. In fact, many of the residents would make the effort to hobble up to the gates to express their gratitude while those in wheelchairs would wave a Thank You.

“I saw how helpless they were as the residents were unable to do grocery shopping to prepare their own meals or even make that trip to the hawker centres to purchase cooked food. It was sad yet humbling to see how the pandemic has affected the lives of the vulnerable and the poor.” Said Sr Cecily, “Reaching out to them this way was indeed an essential service.”

While the circuit-breaker has posed certain constraints in the way the Canossian Sisters go about their missionary work, what is clear is that when hearts burn with zeal and love, the light of Christ continues to shine forth.