Sr Cate O’Brien, former Congregational Bursar and Councillor: “Normal was no more”Print
A few days later, we received a letter from the Congregational Leader, Sr Clare Nolan, bringing to our awareness the restrictions placed upon all Australians due to the Coronavirus epidemic and reminding us that we came under the category of “the Vulnerable” because of our age.
As the weeks wore on in that first lockdown, I could see the effects this isolation was having on people. The deprivation of daily Mass was beginning to take its toll and I knew I had to do something to sort myself out as much as possible due to the uncertainty of Coronavirus.
If I accepted this uncertainty, I knew I would be in a better place to be of help for others.
I began to make a list each night of things to do the following day. With this simple task I could feel my spirits lifting.
I could still see Sisters struggling to coming to terms with the isolation, the endless queues outside Centrelink, the number of virus cases rising and the emotional responses of people who had lost their jobs and realised just how fortunate I am. I do not have to worry about losing my job, home schooling, paying rent, whether to turn on the heater or what will be my next meal.
In Melbourne, we have now been under restrictions for six months. At one stage, there was a glimmer of hope with the restrictions being eased slightly. Weekday Masses resumed with only ten people booking in at the Parish Office.
With new outbreaks of the virus not long after Easter we moved into Stage 3 lockdown for six weeks. Just as the end was nearing, we were plunged into Stage 4 for six weeks which ended up being extended.
Visits to the Sisters in care were not permitted so contact was maintained through phone calls and Face Time.
Owing to being classed as a carer I was able to travel outside the five kilometre radius of home to shop for Sisters and deliver meals. Those were being cooked by Kate Luxford, the housekeeper at the Mononia Convent in Fitzroy, to those living singularly twice a week.
The moments I have felt best during this whole ordeal is when I found a way of doing something for someone else even if it was only something little.
Maybe it was because I missed the connection with people and for me that is the richest kind of connection we can have.