Catholic nuns in Myanmar have filled a gap in the Church’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak by providing food and cloth masks for the poor and sewing protective suits for health workers. The Catholic Religious Conference of Myanmar (CRCM) is collaborating with the national Catholic team, health commission and Karuna (Caritas) Myanmar to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. “We see many people from the grassroots level can’t afford disposable face masks, so we are prioritizing making cloth masks for them,” Sister Assumpta Shwe, executive secretary of CRCM, told UCA News. The nuns will provide at least 10,000 masks as part of an initial plan. They are also tasked with sewing suits for health workers at hospitals with technical support from Caritas Myanmar. As part of a reach-out program, nuns from various congregations are also delivering food items to the poor.
“Salesian sisters are providing food to communities on the outskirts of Yangon, while other nuns are carrying out deliveries in their respective dioceses,” said Sister Shwe. “We stand ready to help in the Church’s response to Covid-19. Depending on the needs, nuns will serve as volunteers at the church-arranged quarantine centers.” Nuns sew suits for health workers as part of the Myanmar Church's response to Covid-19. (Photo: Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition Myanmar) Church readies quarantine centers
Clerical officials have offered church properties including seminaries to be used as quarantine centers in Yangon, Mandalay, Pyay, Banmaw and Lashio dioceses. Over 2,200 nuns serve in the 16 dioceses of Myanmar, according to church records. To help the most needy people affected by Covid-19, Mandalay Archdiocese led by Archbishop Marco Tin Win launched the John Paul Rice Donation Association on April 22. The association started with capital of US$24,885 as 67 priests each donated 540,000 kyats (US$371). Archbishop Tin Win said those who wish to donate can do so through parish priests or diocesan bursars. He also urged Catholics families to say daily rosaries throughout May to call for divine intercession to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon said social distancing and avoiding one another may save our lives “but these are the times when we need to pray for others, spend time thinking of others.” “Mercy has become the new liturgy. We are united. Maybe not in churches built of stones but in a church built through acts of mercy,” Cardinal Bo said in a homily on Divine Mercy Sunday on April 19. “When mercy becomes our life motivation, together we can overcome any virus.” Myanmar has 150 confirmed Covid-19 cases after testing more than 6,800 people, with five deaths and 16 recoveries, according to the latest data.
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