Coronavirus News: Religious community in Westchester County hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A religious community in Westchester County has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Three nuns and 10 priests have died at the Maryknoll religious community in Ossining, while dozens of others have tested positive for COVID-19.

If we can stop the virus from spreading, and that means not being close to one another, we are hoping that will turn the tide," Maryknoll President Sister Antoinette Gutzler said.

In the missionary of nearly 300 sisters, 30 have now tested positive, along with 10 staff members. They stay near their rooms with meals delivered to them.

At prayer mass in their chapel recently, the news had come hard.

"I had to say to sisters this will be the last time for us to gather together as a community in this chapel until this virus, this pandemic has run its course," Gutzler said. "I can still see the shocked faces of the sisters."

At the nearby seminary among the Maryknoll fathers and brothers, 10 priests have died since April 2. Two had tested positive and the others had symptoms.

"At this point, we have had 15 people total tested," said Rev. Raymond Finch, of M.M. Superior General said. "Those 15, three are in very serious condition and the others have been doing okay. "

Finch spoke about the challenges they face.

"This is the first Easter that I have been through in my entire life alone, meaning we could not service the people that we serve," Finch said. "It's very difficult."

There are 288 priests in the order around the world, with 123 of them at Maryknoll. The priests who administer their faith have turned to online masses and messages to reach the faithful.

"In the past, I think electronic media may have separated us," Finch said. "Now, it is a way to come together. Maybe we will learn to use it in new ways."

The Maryknoll sisters have turned to their website in hopes of raising funds to defray medical and cleaning costs.

"We find ourselves joined with other peoples of the world in this common suffering," Gutzler said.

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