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Archives Sisters open new convent

Sept. 22, 2021

By Darcy Fargo

LISBON – The Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod have been a familiar presence in the Diocese of Ogdensburg since 2009, but with the opening of a new convent in Lisbon, the community has expanded its ministry.

“We moved in the first of September, and we’ve been settling in,” said Sister Maria Flavia D’Costa, a Sister of the Cross of Chavanod. “Sisters from Watertown and Cadyville came and helped us move and make the transition.”

The sisters in Lisbon, currently Sister Flavia, a nurse, and Sister Shine Devis, a phlebotomist, will provide medical care and ministry to residents at St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Ogdensburg.

Sister Flavia said the new convent was established after Bishop Terry R. LaValley had expressed a desire to have more Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod working in the diocese to the community’s provincial and mother general.

“At that time, Cadyville and St. Joseph’s Nursing Home were on our list (of places where the community’s presence was wanted),” she said. “The Cadyville community was formed. Our next target was St. Joseph’s Nursing Home. We had sisters ready to come from India last year, but then COVID hit. Everything was at a standstill. Then, sisters with religious visas and nurses were able to work in nursing homes. After a change, only sisters with a green card could work in the nursing home. We had a sister in Cadyville who met that requirement.”

On September 15, celebrated Mass at the new convent.

Sister Flavia said the sisters were initially scheduled to start orienting at the nursing home Sept. 20, but circumstances have required that start date to be pushed back.

“(Sister Shine’s) father is in critical condition, so she’s leaving tomorrow to see her father,” said Sister Flavia. “(The sisters’ start date) will now be dependent upon any restrictions related to international travel.”

Sister Flavia, who has been serving as a hospital chaplain in Watertown, said she has a bit of anxiety about returning to nursing.

“I don’t have anxiety about (COVID),” she said. “Being a nurse, we know how to protect ourselves. But having been a chaplain, I have a bit of anxiety about jumping from that ministry to this ministry.”

She noted, though, that there’s an element of ministry in nursing.

“With COVID, no family visits patients,” she said. “For many patients, I was the only visitor. That really helped increase my skills. I’m a little anxious, but I have faith and trust in God. When I was told I was going to be going to the nursing home as a nurse, it was ringing in my ears, ‘my grace is sufficient for you.’ It gave me the push I needed. Whether a chaplain there or a nurse here, God’s grace is with you.”

While Sister Shine is home visiting her father, Sister Flavia said she plans to return to Watertown to stay with the sisters in the community there. She noted, though, that she looks forward to continuing to transition to her new home.

“In the beginning, it was hard to come from Watertown,” she said. “There, it’s busy, busy streets, and you hear sirens. Here, it’s so quiet. Here, you hear one train go by in the evening, and you hear Amish buggies. You don’t hear them in Watertown, even though they’re there, because it’s so noisy. Here, you hear the horses running on the road. Lisbon is nice and small. The faith community – people have been so welcoming and so happy to have sisters among them.”

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