UCA News


Indonesian nun dies from Covid-19

Reinha Rosary sister becomes the first Catholic religious order member to die from the virus in Indonesia

Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Indonesian nun dies from Covid-19

Sister Maria Roseline of the Daughters of the Reinha Rosary died on April 5 from Covid-19. (Photo supplied)

Share this article :
A nun has become the first member of a Catholic religious order to die from Covid-19 in Indonesia, which now has the highest death rate caused by the coronavirus in Southeast Asia.

Sister Maria Roseline, 69, of the Daughters of the Reinha Rosary died in a Catholic hospital in Samarinda, East Kalimantan province, on April 5.

Sister Maria Ivon, from the same order, told UCA News that the nun was buried almost immediately by the hospital according to Covid-19 protocols. 

Social distancing and Catholic Church

"Our sisters could only participate in her funeral via video link because we were not allowed to go to the hospital," she said.

The nun was thought to have contracted the virus on March 20 when she attended a provincial chapter assembly in Jakarta with 33 other nuns from Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Chapter participants were visited by a woman who had been a donor and who was later found to have been infected with the virus.

"After meeting the nuns, the woman went for a check-up at a hospital and tested positive for Covid-19. She died on March 31,” Sister Ivon said.

The nun said Sister Roseline was likely infected by this woman "because at that time they had close contact." When the nun returned to Kalimantan, she was immediately isolated, she said.

The congregation's leader has instructed all nuns who attended the chapter and those who were in contact with Sister Roseline to undergo a test.

When attending the assembly in Jakarta, Sister Roseline stayed in the community where Sister Ivon lives. "I took the test at Saint Carolus Hospital in Jakarta,” said the nun.

Sister Ivon said nuns were worried because chapter assembly participants shook hands with the dead donor and nun. "We are all terrified now,” she said.

Sister Maria Gratiana, the congregation's general superior who also attended the event, could not be reached for comment.

Sister Roseline, who was from East Flores, had served as chairwoman of Samarinda Archdiocese’s Catechetical Commission. She previously served as a teacher in various places across Indonesia. She would have celebrated 50 years of religious life in July.

As of April 6, Indonesia had recorded 2,273 Covid-19 cases and 198 deaths. The number of cases continues to increase and is spreading throughout the archipelago.

President Joko Widodo is still promoting social distancing and has yet to impose a lockdown.

Meanwhile, the Church is working closely with the government to ensure Catholics follow government protocols.

During the Palm Sunday celebration, which was broadcast on television, Jakarta Archbishop Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo said that obeying government orders, including staying at home, is an act of love because by staying at home "we are involved in keeping the plague from getting worse and expanding." 

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."