Samoan nun prays for end to virus

A 31-year-old Samoan nun in Geraldton, Western Australia, is missing her family due to a separation enforced by coronavirus imposed emergency border closures.

After receiving her first profession as a Sister of Nazareth at the Nazareth House in Melbourne, Australia, last year, Sister Madonna Annabelle Roberta Fido, of Taufusi, Vaimoso and Safotu Savai’i moved away from her family.

In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, Sister Roberta says though she fears the pandemic’s effects in Australia, but not as much as the chance of bringing the virus to Samoa.

About 100 people in Australia have died from the virus. But in the past week 21 cases of community-to-community transmission, authorities said. 

“I had plans to come home this year but holiday had to be put on hold until the virus is cleared,” Sister Roberta said.

“On the other hand also I do not want to come home too in the midst of this crisis and be the person bringing the virus into the country. So basically we all have to wait until it’s cleared. We don’t want to be taking any risk at this stage.”

Western Australia’s coronavirus caseload is comparatively light. Fewer than 10 per cent of the countries more than 7000 confirmed cases have occurred in the western part of the country. 

In Geraldton, where she lives, only two cases have been confirmed and the rest turned out negative.

In the House for the Sisters, including herself, one out of 101 residents had symptoms of the virus and had to be placed in isolation. 

Unlike the other Houses for the Sisters in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, the Western Australian staff has only two Samoan sisters and a few staff.

That can lead to a feeling of cultural isolation she said. 

“Prayer is the only solution to any problem,” she said.

“Assuring everyone that we are praying for them and most especially during these challenging times. With the high hope it will end soon.

“We just have to keep the faith, taking one day at the time with our Sweet Jesus.

“[The] best advice, [is] don’t lose hope when it comes to an international crisis like this.

“See it as a positive encounter with the Lord; use the time in lockdown as to spend time with your loved ones.

“[Put] ourselves into the shoes of those who have lost their loved ones due to COVID-19 and how fortunate we are to be alive and well and safe from this pandemic.

In Geraldton, emergency orders meant every nun had to adapt to the banning of the Holy Mass which is a fundamental part of the Catholic faith.

“Our lives changed completely as well our daily programme to adjust to the lockdown,” she said.

Sister Roberta attended St. Mary's Primary, St. Mary’s College before the National University of Samoa.

After her studies, she worked for Pacific Ezy Money Transfer before she joined her family’s restaurant, Swashbucklers and Sandbar.

But she said becoming a nun filled a spiritual void in her life. 

Sister Roberta invites young people who are curious about life as a nun to get in contact: [email protected] [email protected] 

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