Eight Nuns Die In The Same Week After COVID-19 Spread Through Their Retirement Home


Eight nuns die in the same week after COVID-19 spread through their retirement home

Eight American 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, according to the congregation that runs the home.

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.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province said other sisters who live at Notre Dame of Elm Grove have also been diagnosed with COVID-19 but the international congregation of women declined to provide additional details, citing the residents’ privacy.

“All CDC guidelines are being followed regarding the care of sisters affected by COVID-19 and to avoid spread of the virus, including wearing masks, social distancing and handwashing,” the School Sisters of Notre Dame said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the sisters, their caregivers and families. We invite you to join us in prayer for all those affected by the pandemic.”

Linda Wickstrom, spokeswoman for the Waukesha County Department of Health & Human Services said county disease investigators have been working with the facility since School Sisters of Notre Dame contacted them in November.

‘Given the extreme contagiousness of this virus, it is exceedingly important for congregate settings to practice basic protocols to stop the spread of the disease,’ Wickstrom said. 

She said the School Sisters of Notre Dame have been disinfecting high-touch surfaces, washing hands frequently, social distancing and wearing appropriate face coverings. 

Sciano also added that all residents with the virus have been isolated, and visitors are not allowed.

This comes months after similar homes for the aging religious had reported multiple deaths from the coronavirus. 

Back in July, 13 nuns died at a convent near Detroit and seven died at a center for Maryknoll sisters in New York. At least six nuns also died at Our Lady of the Angels convent in Greenfield, Wisconsin, a home that provides memory care for nuns of the School Sisters of St. Francis and the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

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