Experience of how COVID-19 has impacted a Congregation in Bani, Dominican Republic

Sr. Nery Sori, O.P.
Adrian Dominicans
Bani, Dominican Republic

In Dominican Republic the impact of COVID-19: in relation to my family, it can be said that although it has physically separated us, the family unit has not been affected. As a family we have kept in contact through virtual means, and we have had moments of more intense prayer, praying to God for the pandemic to end. This family prayer prepared us for the moment of crisis, when one of my brothers was affected by the virus and was hospitalized.

As a community, it has only affected our schedules, the time we have to dedicate to visiting banks, supermarkets and other places, due to the long lines and the need to make appointments for some activities.

In terms of ministry in our school, it has affected our school community. We have had to prepare to work virtually with students and with co-workers. For some of our teachers this is very stressful, they feel that they will not be able to respond adequately to the needs of their students. On the other hand, we are concerned that many students do not have access to the Internet. In our Church ministry, in our reality, the Eucharistic celebrations have been suspended in the chapels; only in the parishes there are two Masses on Sunday. All activities have been suspended; this is especially affecting children and young people in their spiritual formation.

Life in community has been reaffirmed. We have more prayer time and meals together. We have used the time to reorganize ourselves and see what other projects we can do now and in the future. How can we respond to people?

The quarantine hasn’t really affected me much so far. Of course, I miss the Eucharistic celebration with the people and the youth meetings, besides I miss visiting my family. Here in the Dominican Republic the ministry we do is in a public school and it keeps us busy. Our students receive part of their meals at school, and while the school year lasted virtually, their meals were distributed to them twice a week. Of course, everything was done with protection and care. In addition, life in community makes it bearable, praying, cooking, eating and exercising together helps us to grow more in community.

In my family there were some affected, who thank God have already recovered. But, it is not easy to think how it feels for those who have lost loved ones and who could not see him again, not even a funeral they could have. It’s painful and I don’t want anyone else to go through it. Our great fear is that the pandemic reaches our small towns, poor people, it would be terrible, since they would have no way to treat themselves. The situations of the public hospitals are not suitable for this pandemic, and the private hospitals are very expensive for the people, besides that not all are prepared and the medicines are also expensive.

I have always believed that God is present at all times, regardless of the situation. God is faithful and just as he allows these things to happen, he also gives us strength and prepares us to face them. Since the quarantine began, my family decided to pray the rosary of mercy virtually, every day at three in the afternoon. We understood that God prepared us not only for the situation of the pandemic in general, but also for the moment when we had to face my brother’s hospitalization for COVID-19.

Our ministry has been affected in the sense that everything has to be through zoom, Google classroom or other programs, and we have had to train ourselves to respond to this situation. That is why we are taking workshops on how to educate our students through virtual programs.

The pandemic has challenged us to catch up with life, it has pushed us to live a virtual life. It pushes us to live up to our spirituality virtually. For some it is a great challenge to adapt to this new way of teaching and being taught through the Internet.

The most lasting memory for me will be the loss of so many lives. Even if I feel this year of 2020 is like a year without meaning, where many plans fell through. However, it will also be the year that we reinvent ourselves; we learn new things about ourselves, about others and about life.

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