Still the Covid !

Still the Covid !

Testimony of a blind Little Sister of the Assumption in a Nursing Home


It is not easy for many to live through this pandemic, in the EHPAD (Residence for Dependent Old People), especially because we did not know how long it would last!

Personally, I entered with the conviction that I had to face, whatever the cost of the famous covid 19 and that I had to deploy all my energies.  It should not be more difficult to live this than to assume day after day, the visual disability, which in itself is already a confinement.

 Is not our life, in every circumstance, a continuous search for freedom and adaptation, in a personal and collective history to the Lord’s design; an adhesion to his “love that we know wants us to be free, like him”?

For me it is the acceptance of the real, of the present, that allows us to assume this with Jesus who became man. Was it not a confinement for God to submit to our humanity, in Jesus? That’s what I believe, and I try to live this isolation with HIM: “Christ became obedient unto death”; “I always do what pleases Him”; “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business”?

May He forgive me for my resistance, the days of weakness!

Without having imagined this pandemic, but rather concerned about the future work to be done in our house, we had foreseen trying to live the present moment with patience and positive confidence, available for the unexpected. I have often remembered this orientation when thinking of my sisters and the other residents, faced with the same difficulties.

I thank the Lord for having accompanied me during all these days:

 – For the daily WORD OF LIFE during the “favorable time” of Lent, Easter, Pentecost. Never have I tasted so much this strengthening food, “daily bread” for this is unheard of or even surprising today

Through the spiritual accompaniment of Fr. Jean-Pierre, and Fr. Kevin

Through the listening and encouragement of Geneviève, (our community leader), her suggestions to stimulate our spirit and our interior life and the missionary impulse, her phone calls, morning and evening, to each sister of the community, which kept us united, one to the other!

Through the internal radio and Radio Notre-Dame we were able to live the Eucharist locally, at a distance, but also in the universal Church united with our Pope Francis, in communion with Christians all over the world, an extraordinary grace! The impossibility of receiving communion only increased my Eucharistic hunger!

The quarantine, the regime of rooms, the obligatory isolation, if it was not very difficult for me, continues to be a struggle in spite of everything:

To keep me “awake” in health, I organized in my room a small circuit that allowed me to walk while praying the rosary!

The most important thing was to become aware that in this situation the mission continued. This free time brought me closer to many of my family and friends in Creil, some of whom were worried about me. I myself contacted “those who seemed to need it most”, especially 4 lay residents I knew before the confinement, and my sisters. I participated in all the activities offered.  These contacts made me discover their courage, and also their faith, their impatience to get out of this solitude.

Sister Josée Marie Barbaz

When I was received at the Nursing Home, Marie, the director invited me to be a part of it like the other sisters! I wondered how I could be a participant with so many limits.  I responded to the calls of the “solidarity networks”: a listening session once a week with 4 people from 20 to 50 years old; a beautiful sharing of our life in Nursing Home, many questions about the congregation, about my vocation! They shared with me their family life, their work, their studies, their leisure activities, etc. They opened my eyes to other realities.

Nursing HomeLike everyone else, I felt the tense atmosphere in our EHPAD: masked personnel, new organization, fear of pollution, change of personnel, fatigue? This in spite of all the efforts to reassure and distract the residents who were suffering from not seeing their families.

I would like to emphasize the mutual help of the staff, the solidarity of the EHPAD’s neighbors, and several volunteers, a real “softness” in this climate of high tension. Little by little we learned of the ravages of the virus among the staff and residents!  A regular mail informed us to reassure the families. Personally, I felt the painful death so often of two residents known before the confinement, and of our sisters, and in difficult conditions. We had to train ourselves to have hope and confidence!

As I struggled, to keep alive and serene I could not ignore, feeling the weight of this international drama, the immense health stress and, as the weeks went by, the growing concern for the economic future of the companies, the fears of the workers and, even more, the real anguish of the vulnerable people.

What struck me most were the uncertainties, contradictions and controversies that were becoming increasingly important.

The complexity of the problems made me feel once again my limits and this difficulty in accepting myself as humbly fragile in a fragile world.  The isolation in which we were forced, the lack of sharing, increased my thirst for reflection in community, or with JPIC (Justice-Peace-Integrity of Creation Commission) for example.

So many questions that we will have to continue to deepen over time in order to discern and forge true convictions, to discover possible commitments in the face of this new situation that is being imposed on us.

At the same time, the horizon was not completely closed:

 – initiatives of solidarity like the applause at 8:00 p.m.

-generosity for the homeless.

-sacrifice of the medical personnel, and…  so much research, creativity, hope for new forms of work and international relations, questioning excessive globalization.

Father Pernet saw the evil of the worker, how will our congregation commit itself, in the years to come, in the face of this evil that has become global?

“Holy Spirit send workers for your harvest, little missionary sisters for our world today! May this pandemic make all men of good will reflect, especially the great ones of this world! Artificial intelligence will not be enough to bring happiness! Open your eyes to your responsibilities in this general malaise! «

As dangerous as covid 19, the sin of today’s man, the abuse of power, violence, the race for profit, conflicts of interest, run the risk of confining us for a long time!

“Lord come to our aid; in your Wisdom inspire us with the humble prayer of trust in You and the actions to change hearts and our society, to bring about your Kingdom! » 

Sr.Josée Marie Barbaz-Little Sister of the Assumption – Grenelle-A.Fage (Paris)

2 Responses

  1. Ron Weston, Whippany, NJ, USA says:

    Dear Sr. Josee, you and I have never met, but you are a Little Sister, and the Little Sisters have known me my entire life (all 76 years). Your love, strength and courage are wonderful, but not unexpected. After all, you ARE a Little Sister of the Assumption, NOT one of the most incredible orders in the world, but THE most incredible order in the world. I could relate story after story about just what the LSA have done in my own personal life, but it would take to long and too many pages. There are so many memories. You are Angels on Earth. I was also amused when I typed your name: Josee. I broke it into Jo and SEE; you may be blind, but there is obviously nothing wrong with your ability to SEE. Please know that you and all the other Little Sisters are always in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Carole Costello, LSA says:

    Dear Sr. Josée Marie
    Thank you for your testimony of living life fully in times of great suffering…being one with the people…living out your vocation as a Little Sister of the Assumption. United in prayer for all those afflicted by Covid and asking God to bless with success those working to end the pandemic..
    Sr. Carole
    (Carole Cosstello, LSA)

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