(Source: MJ/Vatican News)

We are all invited to join an online prayer today, July 23 – promoted by religious around the world – for all those who are suffering from COVID-19 and from the injustice that may be preventing their adequate care.  

The initiative comes to life thanks to the collaborative effort of the International Union of Superiors General in Rome (UISG) together with the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean Religious (CLAR) and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States (LCWR).

Sr. Mary Barron, Superior General of the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles, told Vatican News that the initiative stemmed from the desire “to bridge the sense of solitude and isolation” experienced in lockdown and “to support each other” in this time of global suffering.

“It’s designed as a space of prayer and blessing for all those who have lost their lives or who are suffering from COVID symptoms right now,” she said.

Injustice and lack of health-care

Sr. Barron noted that the pandemic has had levels of impact at different stages throughout the globe and that at this point the focus is particularly on countries like Brazil, Mexico, the US, India, South Africa, Egypt, Peru and Chile: “Those who are at the worst moment of the pandemic for them.”

In Italy, for example, Sr. Barron remarks, people are very privileged and blessed to have a good system that has done its utmost to care for people, although the country has not escaped the terrible impact of the virus on patients and their families.

But in other parts of the world, she said, “access to healthcare is not as easily available, and that depends a lot in which country you are born into, and whether you have access [to healthcare] or not.”

Giving a voice to the voiceless

Sr. Barron reiterated the concept of widespread injustice this initiative aims to highlight: “We sense that helplessness, that voicelessness when a sister or a brother doesn’t have fundamental rights, when people are living in situations of violence and are helpless and powerless to react.”

She explained that as religious they try to walk with people, sharing their joys and sorrows, and so for them, “this is about solidarity, sharing that solidarity across the world… coming together to pray… praying for our world and especially for those most affected.”

Sr. Barron revealed that during the prayer there will be some words and music that invite contemplation and deeper listening; there will also be testimonies from different parts of the world. 

“It’s open to anyone who really would like to carve out a space to stop and pray with us,” she said. 

“We don’t expect miracles,” she concluded, “but we wish to nourish our own spirituality, to give us the strength to face this difficult pandemic time with patience; and to be able – and ready – to accompany those who are most fragile and vulnerable.” 

You can join the online worldwide prayer on Thursday, 23 July, starting at 3pm Rome time, by logging in to the UISG website where you will find a link to participate.

Novena’s full coverage of the COVID crisis:

Cardinal Scola: “It is wrong to think that COVID is a punishment from God, but we must not believe that God is not asking us for something”

Vatican renews plea for universal access to COVID vaccine: “The common good comes before any concern for profit”

Bishops celebrate agreement on EU COVID recovery fund: “This is the Europe of solidarity”

Vatican cardinal floats COVID conspiracy theory, suggests virus could be biological weapon

‘Our Lady of COVID’: a “message of hope” or a “blasphemous provocation”?


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.