The Holy Cross Residence for Seniors in São Paulo, Brazil, is a beautiful place filled with beautiful hearts
As the COVID-19 virus progressed throughout the country in the spring of 2020, staff very quickly made the necessary accommodations to lock down the facility to protect everyone who lived or worked there. Their efforts were rewarded.
“Ours was the only senior facility we know of that has had no deaths due to COVID-19,” said Sister Diane Cundiff, CSC, Area of South America coordinator.
Yet, challenges prevailed. Schoolchildren from the nearby Colégio Santa Maria, a sponsored ministry of the Congregation, used to visit the residence regularly to perform musical and dance presentations. They also would bring presents and give hugs and kisses to their “special grandparents.” But the school closed as the pandemic took hold.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation set in, so the facility made a psychologist available to counsel residents and staff. Staff also were encouraged to dedicate time to just sitting and talking with the residents.
This concern for residents’ well-being permeates the facility and is expressed in a comment that Sister Diane often hears: “Since coming here, my health and physical conditions have improved, not failed, as I get older.”
Throughout the lockdown, Sister Maria Regina Gomes, CSC, the only sister on staff, was disheartened that she could no longer circulate among the residents. But with the easing of restrictions in October, she happily began organizing socially distanced prayer services and Masses.
Family and other visitors, who had been limited to online interactions, were now able to come into the facility, provided they followed pandemic protocols, of course. For resident Sister June Ann Kirby, CSC, the masked face-to-face visits from local Holy Cross sisters were “like Christmas presents.”
Just five years since its opening, the Holy Cross Residence currently accommodates nearly 50 seniors. Its many amenities include a pool, movie theater, library, dining room, tearoom, exercise rooms, multimedia and art center, activities areas, hairdresser and massage services, and physical therapy. The facility encompasses 100,000 square feet and is a sponsored ministry of the Congregation — a beautiful one.