LIVONIA, Mich. (FOX 2) - There has been an outpouring of support for the Livonia group of religious sisters that has lost 13 members to the coronavirus.
The Felician Sisters are an incredible group of women who have helped shape social services here and across the country. Now a local Catholic organization is stepping up to help them.
"These were women who are just beyond sisters and your average women, they were leaders, entrepreneurs, and trailblazers," said Marcia Wallander. "Any word you can think of that means leader and women making a difference. That’s who they were."
And it is who they were, selfless women of faith, who catered to and comforted people in their community. That likely led to the deaths of 13 elderly sisters at a Livonia convent.
Before the pandemic, 57 sisters were living in the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent. Now there are only 44. The sisters who died range in age from 69 to 99.
"If you look at our website it is pictures of the sisters hugging touching and being with people because they don't want and one to feel alone, feel hungry, afraid or not educated," Wallander said.
Wallander is the director of development for the Felician Sisters, based in Pittsburgh, but came to Michigan to help care for the religious sisters while they were in isolation.
She says living without visitors or interaction was the hardest on the women, who never asked for anything - even in their final days.
"When we saw the heartbreaking story of the Felician Sisters, we know the great work they do in the community, the self-sacrifice, the giving and the shining light that these women are in our community and we wanted to be there of support," said Angela Moloney.
So many people were impacted by the deaths of the Felician Sisters, including Moloney with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan.
Moloney says they are trying to raise $100,000 for the aging sisters. The money would go to support their charitable work, but also their needs like facemasks, gloves, medication, funerals, and caregivers as they work to recover from the virus.
"Whether we have been affected directly or personally by this pandemic, we all want to see good in the world, we all want to see something better," Moloney said.
So far, there have been more than nine thousand dollars in donations and we are told no one is more appreciative than the Felician Sisters.
"They are just so touched that they've impacted people's lives in a way that they are remembering them," Wallander said. "That is such a great gift. And the funds they need to continue are so important."