A series of events unraveled the community of the Daughters of the Cross. It started when Sr. Flora was diagnosed with COVID-19 on the 5th of October. The next day, Sr. Suchita was also admitted to the hospital, and her condition worsened the following day. On that week, eighteen Sisters of the community were diagnosed with the virus. Sr. Anupama, the Provincial superior, and six other Sisters were having bad symptoms and had to be hospitalized immediately.
After eight days in the hospital, some Sisters could come back home, provided that they would keep quarantine for eight more days. Sr. Suchita did not come home. On the 23rd of October at 8:00 PM, Sr. Suchita passed away.
“We are called Daughters of the Cross, and this time, the Lord has given us a share of His Cross. But let us not forget that we are not carrying it alone. He is with us. So, let us carry the Cross together, helping one another. Let us embrace the Cross and lift it up courageously”, wrote Sr. Anupama informing the province about their loss.
Sr. Suchita was the principal of a school that provided education for 320 children from poor tribal families. She was also a member of the Provincial Council of her congregation and the Mother Superior of the community in Hamirpur. “Sr. Suchita gave her life for the poorest and the weakest. It is a big loss for the Province and personally for me,” said Sr. Anupama.
The congregation, founded by Mother Marie Therese Haze in 1833, has been active in India since 1861. Ever since the beginning, they have been active in the sphere of education, and they carry on their work even amidst hardships.
The pandemic in India
When the COVID-19 virus spread in India and people started to suffer the health and economic consequences of the pandemic, many families could not afford to pay the tuition fee of the schools. As a result, many Sisters, who work as teachers, did not receive their salaries for many months. Nonetheless, as long as they could work, they did so.
Following the footsteps of their founder, the Sisters of the Daughter of the Cross continue to meet the needs of the most suffering members of society. In times of pandemic, they provide sanitizer and self-made masks to the community, especially for those who cannot afford it. The most vulnerable families rely on the Sisters for food, medicine, and daily living. “The need is growing as much as the suffering of the people,” said Sr. Anupama.
India is the second most affected country with COVID-19. There are more than 8.5 million positive cases registered in the country. More than 127 thousand people died from coronavirus. “We do not know how long this pandemic is going to play havoc. Our town Rourkela is fully infested. People are afraid,” said Sr. Anupama.
The mission of the Daughters of the Cross in Rourkela
The mission of the Sisters is to reveal the experience of God’s love to all people in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. They carry out their pastoral and social work in the Slums of Rourkela, besides having activities for sick people in hospitals, aged people, and ailing migrant workers who cannot provide for their families.
ACN supports the Daughters of the Cross in India since the 1990s. Now, in times of need, the Sisters recur to the support of the Pontifical Foundation once again. “We are trying to overcome these tragic events [the loss of Sr. Suchita and the sickness of 18 other Sisters], but it will take time. The hospital bills hit us very badly because the Province is still working on its economic sustainability. We do not know how long the pandemic will last. The Sisters who are ill need good care. They also need good nourishing food. If you and your organization think of supporting us at this time of crisis, I shall ever be grateful to you for your kindness,” wrote Sr. Anupama.
ACN has promised to help them with 5.000 Euros to cover the medical expenses and medicine costs. The Pontifical Foundation also offers the prayers of its workers for the recovery of the sick Sisters and the rest of Sr. Suchita’s soul.