A sister’s ministry is a vital part of how she lives her vows. Through the works of her ministry, she participates in the prophetic mission of Jesus to witness God’s love for all creation. It is how she stands with Mary, our compassionate mother, at the foot of the cross in this time and place. And it is the focus to which she devotes her energies.
So it can be heartbreaking when she has to be away from her ministry for an extended length of time. For Sister Lilma Calsin Collazos, CSC, contracting COVID-19 kept her away from her prison ministry for two long months.
Since 2016, Sister Lilma and her pastoral health team have been bringing desperately needed health services and spiritual support to prisoners at the Chorillos Women’s Prison Annex in Lima, Peru. Suddenly, when Sister Lilma became extremely ill with the virus, she was no longer able to coordinate the activities of her team. The timing was particularly challenging since in that first week of her illness she was to have taken delivery of oxygen tanks and an oxygen concentrator, both crucial for treating COVID-19 at the prison.
The situation weighed heavily on her as she fought the virus. “My commitment to the ministry in prison is very important to me because every day we have to attend to difficult health situations,” she said. “If we stop, the women suffer the consequences.” Sister Lilma says she knows she is not indispensable to the ministry but, “It hurt me a lot to be away knowing there was so much need.”
Finally, after a month in a hospital and another month in recovery at home, Sister Lilma was well enough to coordinate with her team the delivery of the oxygen tanks and concentrator. Today, the process of recovery for her is long. Still, she says, “With patience and confidence, I have resumed my activities to ensure that health care in the prison continues its mission. The experience of having been on the brink of death teaches that we must always be ready to leave, but leaving everything in order and clear for other people to continue with the mission.”