ASIA/PAKISTAN - Catholic nun "mother of the mentally disabled" dies from Covid-19
Wednesday, 22 July 2020
Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - The funeral of Sister Ruth Lewis, 74, religious of the Congregation of the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King (FMCK), who lost her battle against Covid-19 on 20 July 2020, at the Agha Khan university hospital in Karachi, will be held today, 22 July, at the Christ the King Church in Karachi. She was on a ventilator at Agha Khan Hospital after contracting the virus on July 8. Sister Ruth Lewis continued her tireless apostolic service at Dar-ul-Sukun, a centre for underprivileged persons with disabilities, after twenty-one children of the centre had been infected with the coronavirus in early July. After being hospitalized, she was transferred to ICU due to complications caused by the novel coronavirus.
The administration of the Dar ul Sukun Center, where the religious served for 51 years, asked the faithful to join the mass through the social media Facebook, in compliance with anti-Covid-19 measures.
Fr. Qaisar Feroz OFM Cap, Executive Secretary of the Bishops’ Commission for Social Communications who worked with Sister Ruth as a seminarian for two years, speaking to Agenzia Fides: “Authentic witness of God's love towards each person and each creature. She dedicated her entire life to the service of these children and always treated them like a mother, making them feel 'loved children'. She had an evangelical look of love towards these children with disabilities, which was visible in every moment of her life. Her death is a great loss for the Church's mission and, above all, for these children in need of special care, whom she assisted and accompanied for 51 years of apostolic service. She was one of the first nuns to join Sister Gertrude Lemmes, the founder of the Center", recalls the Secretary.
A figure like Sister Ruth shows the merciful face of the Catholic Church in Pakistan, which dedicates herself for the common good at the service of the poor and most vulnerable, without distinction of ethnicity, religion, culture, social class. In fact, the loss of Sister Lewi has aroused emotional reactions also among the civil authorities, who appreciated her commitment: “We have lost another heroine unknown to many, Sister Ruth Lewis, who dedicated her life to serving mentally disabled children at the Dar-ul-Sukun centre. The people of Karachi will greatly miss her. I ask the President of Pakistan to reward her, posthumously, for her services to humanity", said Bilawal Zardari, President of the Sindh Province.
Syed Murad Ali Shah, Prime Minister of Sindh province, also expressed his sorrow and condolences for the death of Sister Ruth Lewis and said: “It is a great loss, especially for people with physical and mental disabilities. She rendered extraordinary services for children in need of special care in Sindh province". The Sindh government paid all the hospitalisation costs of Sister Lewis and still the team members of the Sindh government are working in the specialised quarantine ward set up in the premises of Darul Sukun for the COVID affected disabled children of Dar ul Sukun. They have also provided a grant of Rs25 million (about 130 thousand euros) to provide assistance and medicines to the 19 currently coronavirus positive patients residing in the Center.
For her charitable, selfless and passionate service to "special children", Sister Ruth Lewis was awarded the "Karachi Pride" award on January 18, 2014, and in 2018 she received the "Hakim Mohammad Saeed" award from the Governor of Sindh for the social service rendered to the poor and suffering humanity, without any discrimination. (AG-PA) (FULL TEXT Release: Agenzia Fides, 22/7/2020)