Buddhist Sisters make masks for Good Shepherd

The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in Taiwan made masks for Good Shepherd Sisters in April. Buddhist Sisters and volunteers from the Tzu Chi Foundation shared their love and compassion by distributing masks to people around the world. Good Shepherd Sisters were among the recipients of the Buddhist goodwill.

Buddhists make masks for Sisters
Volunteers at the Tzu Chi Foundation in St. Louis boxed and distributed masks to thousands of people and organizations throughout the metropolitan St. Louis region.

The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, founded by Buddhist nun Dharma Master Cheng Yen in Taiwan, provided protective face masks to Good Shepherd Sisters in St. Louis and Cincinnati to protect them against the Coronavirus. Sisters in Danville had masks and didn’t need any additional ones.

I know the Sisters at Tzu Chi in St. Louis from floral arranging classes I take at the Buddhist center. The classes are currently postponed because of COVID-19.

When Tzu Chi Foundation in Taiwan began making masks to protect people around the world, Buddhist Sisters at Tzu Chi St. Louis called me and asked if any Good Shepherd Sisters would benefit from having masks. “Yes!” I said.

Within two weeks volunteers at the Buddhist center had boxed dozens of packages of masks for the Good Shepherd Sisters. Each packet contained 20 masks. 

Masks give Good Shepherd Sisters freedom

Having the masks made it possible for Good Shepherd Sisters at Mason Pointe Care Center to leave the confines of their rooms after being quarantined alone in them for three weeks. Sr. Sharon Rose Authorson said she was beginning to feel like she was on permanent retreat. 

With facial masks to protect them and other Sisters and staff at Mason Pointe from the virus, the Sisters were free to leave their rooms to pray in the Good Shepherd chapel, walk the halls for exercise, and visit one another while maintaining social distancing. 

We were so touched by, and grateful for, the generosity of our Buddhist Sisters at the Tzu Chi Foundation. 

Sister Dorothy Doyle, Beechwood Community in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Sister Michael Maguire, Mason Pointe Community in Chesterfield, Missouri.

“The Sisters at Mason Pointe were so delighted to get the masks and regain freedom by having them to wear. They are happy to be back in the chapel praying and getting a change of scenery from their rooms,” said Sr. Pauline Bilbrough.

The masks also gave Sisters in Cincinnati more peace of mind, knowing they were taking measures to protect themselves and others at 

Sister Anita Kristofco sits in the Good Shepherd chapel at Mason Pointe Care Center.

Beechwood and the surrounding  community, as they travel to the pharmacy, doctors’ offices, and shop for food or other necessities.  

Sister Dolores Kalina said, “The Sisters in Cincinnati shared some of the packs with the three Carmelite Sisters who lovingly tend to the needs of our Sisters at St. Margaret Hall, for when they need to go out into the community.”

The Sisters in Cincinnati are also saving some of the masks for Sisters in St. Margaret Hall for when they are once again able to mingle with each other and visit with the Sisters in Beechwood.

At this time, the Sisters in St. Margaret Hall are strictly confined to their rooms, except for a given time when small groups may go into the garden area.  

“We were so touched by, and grateful for, the generosity of our Buddhist Sisters at the Tzu Chi Foundation in St. Louis. Perhaps someday we will be able to meet and thank them in person,” Sr. Dolores said.

The Sisters at the Province Center in Normandy have had more freedom. They authorized all Mission Partners to work from home at the earliest announcement of the Coronavirus so that the Sisters could self-quarantine in the convent without worry about outside influences. Sisters wear masks when they leave the safety of the convent, even to collect the mail. 

Buddhist Sisters’ concern led to action

The United States has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the world’s highest death toll from the virus. Taiwan, where Tzu Chi was founded, has been little affected by the virus. Sisters and volunteers in Taiwan felt concern for people in the United States and other parts of the world and wanted to help by providing masks. 

Buddhist Sisters make protective masks
Master Cheng Yen, Founder, Tzu Chi

They made more than 12,000 masks for U.S. citizens. Sr. Gayle Lwanga Crumbley said, “We are grateful to our Buddhist Sisters for the care they took in making these masks in order for us to protect our health.”

The Tzu Chi Foundation in Taiwan also made thousands of protective masks for the Vatican in Rome. 

In the Chinese language, “tzu” means compassion and “chi,” relief. For the Sisters of the Good Shepherd the Tzu Chi Foundation was an answered prayer. You can learn more about the Tzu Chi Foundation at www.tzuchi.us.

Master Cheng Yen established Tzu Chi Foundation in 1966 on the poor east coast of Taiwan. From the first 30 members — housewives who saved two cents from their grocery money each day to help the poor — the foundation has grown to include volunteers in 50 countries, with 502 offices worldwide. http://tw.tzuchi.org/en/

For more stories about Good Shepherd Sisters, read our monthly newsletter Items of Interest.

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette is the Communications Coordinator for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. She is a career photojournalist who has served in various capacities of print, broadcast, and corporate communications. Jeanette is devoted to creation and is particularly focused on saving pollinators and other wildlife species and their habitat. She is an ethical vegan and created the website veganstoryteller.com