Residents of Assisi and Rieti, in Italy, have taken to Facebook to express their sadness and gratitude for a Tanzanian religious sister, Anastasia Cristian Malisa who died of Covid-19 over the weekend. She was 60 years old.
"Today, at 16.30, our Sister Anastasia, returned to Jesus, her spouse and only source of joy, after a terrible month of suffering from the coronavirus," wrote one of the Poor Clares in Rieti, last Saturday.
Sr Anastasia worked at the Santa Lucia nursing home for the elderly. When several residents at the home contracted the virus, all residents and staff were tested. Sr Anastasia's test was positive. A day after, she became seriously ill and was admitted to th San Camillo De Lellis hospital. On the evening of 29 March, her condition took a turn for the worst and she was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit. After a month-long struggle, she died on 25 April.
Sr Anastasia was "kind, fully-fulfilled in her vocation as a religious sister and dedicated to the service of the little ones and our dear elderly," the Poor Clares wrote. "May the Lord, in His goodness, welcome her into his Kingdom of joy, reserved for his chosen ones."
Sr Anastasia arrived in Rieti from Assisi eight years earlier. Several of those who knew her in Assisi paid tribute to "the African nun with a warm smile." Others wrote, "We shall forever remember your joy and readiness to always give testimony to your calling."
"It was not possible for us to bid you farewell, but we know that where we could not be, our prayers arrived." There were many other tributes.
Sr Anastasia came to Italy from Tanzania at the age of 34. She was from Tanzania's Moshi District which lies on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. As a Poor Clare, she first worked with children in the nursery schools and then eventually in the Casa di Riposo Santa Lucia of Rieti care home.
According to the newspaper, Avvenire, 118 priests have so far died of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy. The virus has been devastating the ranks of female Catholic congregations worldwide. In Italy, the numbers of religious sisters who have died is much greater than the number of priests.
Female religious are more vulnerable because many of them work in hospitals; run nursing and retirement homes, and live closely together in communities.
Meanwhile, Catholics in Kenya have also been paying tribute and mourning the death of Bishop Emeritus Silas Njiru. Bishop Njiru was the second Bishop of Kenya's Meru Diocese. A representative of the Consolata Missionaries in Italy, Fr Pedro Jose da Silva Luoro, said that after his retirement, Bishop Njiru lived in the Blessed Joseph Allamano House for the elderly in Alpignano, Turin Italy. He passed away on Tuesday, 28 April of Covid-19. He was 92 years.
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