Sisters assemble care packages for Latino community

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

Religious communities in the Diocese of Covington are uniting to bring relief to local Latino communities through outreach. Sisters from five congregations are assembling care packages to give out to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Divine Providence Sister Kay Kramer served as the bridge to unite the goals of the various congregations and St. Elizabeth Healthcare into this project. Sister Kay, a nurse midwife and family nurse practitioner at St. Elizabeth, reached out to her provincial superior, Divine Providence Sister Barbara Roe. Sister Barbara in turn contacted the superiors of the Sisters of Notre Dame, the Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery, the Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker and the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ.

“At St. Elizabeth we have created a Latino COVID-19 Crisis Team to try to improve outreach to Latinos in our area who are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus,” said Sister Kay. “So one of the things we thought might be helpful was these care packages.”

The packages include supplies both bought by the sisters and provided by the hospital: Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, bars of soap, masks, gloves, dish soap, an instruction sheet in Spanish and a prayer card in Spanish. The various religious orders are listed on the back of the prayer card to remind recipients that the sisters are praying for them.

“It’s a way to be in solidarity with them and remind them that we are united with them in prayer,” Sister Kay said.

She said the response from the congregations was wonderful. “It was an issue of who was going to do this, and I thought, well this is definitely something the sisters can do. … They all were right away willing to help in any way.”

Any extra money raised in the process of making the care packages will be used toward helping to provide groceries to Latino families who are impacted by the virus.

Sister Kay said that the COVID-19 virus is impacting Guatemalan and Mexican families in the Covington, Newport and Florence communities especially harshly.

“We have such long standing social and health inequities for the immigrant community, so the virus impacting them is not really a surprise,” she said. “This is just bringing it all to a head, these issues that we’ve been trying to work with for so long.”

St. Elizabeth is also reaching out to communities with large Latino populations, such as St. Anthony Parish, Taylor Mill, and Cristo Rey Parish, Florence, to get information about the virus to them in brochures, as well as donations of soap and household items from Matthew 25 Ministries.

“I think it’s something that our local Church needs to know about,” said Sister Kay.

She’s also grateful for the opportunity to give her fellow religious communities a chance to express their faith through actions.

“For us as religious communities, it’s really a way of living out not just the missions of our religious orders but also living out Catholic social teaching in a very direct and concrete way,” she said. “Catholic social teaching is built on a foundation of respect and belief in the dignity of the human person, so by providing these care packages, it’s a very concrete way to express our commitment to that teaching.”