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A First-hand Report From Wuhan

Posted on March 1, 2020, by Anna Koop SL

(Editor’s Note: Anna Koop shares with Interchange the following background and letter from Sr. Clara Zhang who lives in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, where the new Coronavirus was first discovered in 2019.)

Sister Clara Zhang attended the University at Boston College under the sponsorship of Maryknoll and Loretto.
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It is a blessing to be in touch with Sr. Clara in Wuhan. Loretto Sisters Justa and Clementia helped found her religious community years ago in China and PJ Manion helped Sr. Clara get a master’s degree in Social Work at Boston College. Some of us have remained in relationship with Sr. Clara since those years. She visited PJ a couple of times at the Motherhouse and I first met her when she visited Denver.

Now we are working together to raise money for protective masks and clothing to send to three different hospitals in Wuhan. Loretto has made some resources available to her. Clara hopes to submit an application to the Hilton Fund for Sisters for emergency funds. Please keep Sr. Clara’s community, who are precious to us, in your prayers.

Below, Sr. Clara describes the situation around the new Coronavirus:

The situation in the hospital opposite to us (based on the St. Columban Sisters hospital) is terrible. I saw a video a staff sent to our parish priest four days ago. Eight bodies were being brought to the bus. A young man was crying on the phone, the doctors, running to his father who just lost any sign of life.

The Coronavirus spreads so fast. My formal classmate from college who lives near to our church called me today, all her relatives who work at different hospitals now are in quarantine. And one of them has been confirmed to be infected. My classmate is worrying so much because she has a fever for a few days and been coughing for almost an half of month. Tomorrow the staff from social community will come to check and she is afraid of being forced to be taken to a center to be in quarantine. Her husband and two children (1 and 5 years-old) who had an ordinary cold had just recovered. The terrible thing was that previously many people who were sick could only stay at home because there was not enough space for them in hospitals. Doctors and nurses did not have sufficient medical protection for themselves. And many of them have been infected. Some of people who were sick running around desperately wanting to be received by the hospitals. Now, the government works very hard to make space and many doctors from all over China come to help. I also heard many doctors from the USA are coming on the road.

We sisters are not allowed to go out. For half a month, I just went out to throw away the trash. Just before the public transportation was suspended, I went to the airport to see our retreat leaders off and also went to hospital to visit an old lady and a nursing home to visit another lady. Our sisters worried about me and themselves so much after the Coronavirus officially announced! But, thank God, that our sisters and I are all ok! Since we cannot go out, since Chinese New Year eve, we are having 24 hours Holy Communion Adoration with every member 3 hours each day and community Adoration at 8:00 pm. We prayed 14 stations for 9 days.

Shown above is the 2015 or 2016 vow ceremony in HanYang for three new St. Mary sisters, with Anna, the eldest, on the left.
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We have a new student who just ended her teaching in a high school and moved into our community. She prepared to join our community for an half year. Now, she is the only one taking her holiday to be with her family. The rest of us were not quick enough to leave the city to visit our families. Our villages are blocked down. Right now behind our building, we can still get some food where a few people are selling vegetables! We thank God that we can take this special time to pray more, to reflect and to discuss about our life, mission. We make some phone calls to encourage and make some comforts to some friends and Catholics who are either in quarantine or just infected.

Please pray for us!

May God take care of the city and China and all countries who are suffering from natural disasters!


Anna Koop SL

Anna is a housing enthusiast (especially for homeless people). She is busy trying to get the Denver Catholic Worker open and sits on the board of the Beloved Community Village which is a tiny home village for homeless people.
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