9 deaths in Latham monastery linked to coronavirus

COLONY – A deadly outbreak of coronavirus has left the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet was infected in Latham and killed nine nuns in just over a month’s life.

Thirteen nuns have been dying in the facility since Nov. 25. Albany County officials were initially unable to determine the number of deaths attributed to the coronavirus. Mary Rozak, spokeswoman for the county, sent an e-mail to the Times Union on Tuesday night by the county’s health commissioner, Elizabeth Whalen, saying the country was aware of the nine COVID-19 deaths.

“Four of the deaths related to the congregation were reported by hospitals earlier this month,” Whalen said in the statement. “The other five were not reported by the Albany County Department of Health.”

The COVID-19 deaths in the 370-year-old congregation in St. Joseph’s Provincial House on Watervliet-Shaker Road, a convent, is part of the region’s worst period of infestation since the pandemic began last winter.

“Our department has been working with the congregation on outbreak control since the beginning of December and is working with additional private professional staff brought in by the facility to provide guidance on infection control,” Whalen said. She said the facility is not under the supervision of the state department of health of other regulatory agencies.

“Our deepest condolences to those in the community,” Whalen said.

Rozak said she could not comment on individual names under the privacy rules under the Portability and Liability for Health Insurance Act. Seven of the 13 nuns who died were in their 90s, five in their 80s and one in her late 70s, death reports showed.

According to the website, there are 140 nuns.

The graph shows daily deaths associated with COVID-19 in the eight provinces of the capital region.
Source: Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 detection project
Graphic version by Cathleen F. Crowley / Times Union

“We all at the Diocese of Albany pray for the sisters during this challenging time,” said Mary DeTurris Poust, a spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. ‘In addition to the loss of so many beloved sisters who have served so selflessly for decades, there is the added problem of not being able to celebrate their lives as a community due to COVID restrictions. For so many people who have lost loved ones in recent months, the already difficult task of grieving becomes even more difficult due to isolation and lack of closure. ”

Poust announced Monday that Sister Mary Rose Noonan, the communications director of the Sisters of St. Joseph van Carondelet, said the facility “is still in mourning” and is not ready to make a public statement.

Noonan also said that the house “had cases like any other nursing home, but that the deceased were not all COVID patients, and that at the moment we want to protect the privacy of all our sisters.”

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The congregation’s Facebook page described the convent and the convent as a “Catholic community of religious women working to bring God’s unifying and reconciling love wherever the needs are. Through our ministry in education, health care, congregation and social services, the arts, spiritual guidance, counseling and hospitality and through our life together in prayer and fellowship we try to serve all the people of God, especially the poor. ‘

In the comment section of a report announcing one of the deaths, a woman said: “So many beautiful sisters have lost this holiday season. May their memories be forever. My deepest condolences to the entire community.”

On December 11, WNYT reported that an inside memo said that 22 sisters tested positive for COVID-19.

On March 16, St. Joseph announced on his website that, in light of the pandemic and guidelines of the Federal Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health, he was suspending public access to the facility and banning all visits until further notice. All masses, meetings and programs have been canceled until May 31st.

The sisters of the St. Joseph Congregation dates from 1650 in the south of France. Sisters went into hiding during the French Revolution after five of them were executed by revolutionaries. The congregation moved to the United States near the town of Carondelet outside St. Louis. Sisters opened a school in Oswego and later moved to Albany, where they founded the College of Saint Rose in 1920.

The Latham location, which dates from 1963, serves as the center and headquarters for the town of Albany Province. It contains congregation office space, a music center, archives and a home for retired congregation suns, retired nuns in need of long-term health care, and nuns whose ministries are located inside and outside the complex.

In May, the Times Union reported that the Teresian House in the Washington Avenue extension in Albany, another care facility for congregations affiliated with the Catholic Church, is being investigated by the state Department of Health after more than 100 cases of COVID-19 among residents has been detected. and staff – and 14 infected residents were killed.