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Indonesia

Indonesian nun dies from Covid-19

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

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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)

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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." 

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