Servants of Mary Adapt to COVID-19 Challenges

By J1 Reporter Elise Moulton

The Servants of Mary traverse new paths due to recent challenges in order to provide for the Marian community. The sisters work and leisure activities are altered to conform to safety precautions pertaining to COVID-19. 

Sr. Joan Houtekier, Marian’s Bereavement Minister, says that her typical week, before COVID, would consist of attending between 4 and six funerals. “If one of our 10,000 alumnae lost a parent, spouse, sibling, or child, I would try to visit the alum and her family before the services,” Houtekier said. However, Houtekier is no longer able to attend funeral services at this time in order to protect the Servite Sisters at the Convent. “Several of them have frail health, and we didn’t want them exposed to the virus,” she said. Although Houtekier is not able to be physically present for the mourning families, she provides emotional and spiritual support by sending care notes and reaching out via phone. 

Staying home has changed the sisters’ interaction with friends and family. Sr. Peggy Miller and Sr. Margaret Buchta say they have been using Zoom to connect with their loved ones. “I have a group of college friends that I used to go to lunch with every month and another group of high school friends in a book club,” Miller said. Both of these gatherings are now occurring on Zoom.

 Zoom has been a new form of communication for Buchta. “It seems each Zoom session has its own peculiarities! Family and friends are also helping me make smart phone discoveries,” Buchta said. 

Opportunities for new hobbies have emerged because of the current pandemic. Houtekier says she is reading two of Marian’s previous summer-read books and trying to go on outdoor walks every day. Miller says that she has made time to do more research on her genealogy in the midst of COVID-19. Buchta shares that she has been learning how to barbecue with the help of her brother via phone. 

Work days and leisure activities have been changed because of COVID-19. The Servants of Mary are taking these challenges one day at a time and continue to provide for the Marian community. 

“Today we are one day closer than we were yesterday,” Buchta said. 

The Mary Statue in front of the Convent.
Photo by Elise Moulton ‘22

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