Spain – "St James Major" province heavily affected by Covid-19 pandemic
(ANS – Madrid) – The Salesian province of “St James Major”, based in Madrid, has been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Several circumstances, unforeseen at the time they occurred, have caused widespread infections and the death of several Salesians. During a meeting held at a time when there was still no alarm situation in Spain, widespread contagion occurred in the presence of several Salesians and lay people – including a participant from Venice. Several communities were then joined by infected religious who, in turn, infected other Salesians.
In the Oviedo community, all religious, except the oldest, have been infected. The consequence was the death of two Salesian coadjutors brothers Avelino Uña (68 years old) and Tirso Álvarez (94 years old). A Salesian priest, Joaquín Egozcue (76 years old), is in hospital, sedated and intubated.
In the communities of León, where the meeting from which the contagion spread, the effects were more catastrophic. In the “Centro Don Bosco” community, the Salesian brothers Manuel Machado (79 years old) and Pedro García (81 years old) died, while other religious with COVID-19 symptoms are healing. In the work “Santiago el Mayor”, the virus also reached the residence that houses the elderly Salesians. Several Salesian brothers Cayetano Álvarez (89 years) and Maximiliano Asenjo (87 years) have died. Three other Salesians in the retirement home, not diagnosed with the virus, joined them on their way to the Father: the priests Félix Cantón (86), Ángel Neila (86) and the Salesian coadjutor Ivo Díez (94). The Salesian coadjutor Graciano Vidal is in critical conditions.
Another of the communities affected by that meeting is the “San José” house in Salamanca. Almost all the Salesians are or were infected. At the moment, some of them are in a delicate situation.
In a Salesian community in the city of Madrid, the Salesian priest Pablo Ortega (81 years old) died of Coronavirus. Another brother was hospitalized for pneumonia and the rest live in solitary confinement.
In the residence for elderly Salesians in Arevalo, the Salesian priest Florencio Martinez (90 years), with some symptoms of the virus, died suddenly. Days later, with no apparent signs of contagion, the Salesian coadjutor Fidel Montes (94 years) also died.
It is clear to everyone that the evolution of the situation has been very rapid since the beginning, in its first manifestations, and has precipitated dramatically in just a few days. From the first moment, the SSM Province has tried to pay close attention, to protect the most vulnerable Salesians, to confine all those who showed symptoms, to live quarantine in the communities, maintaining the corresponding security measures. Some communities have already been sanitized.
From the Province, all the communities have been duly instructed and trained with all the procedures to be followed scrupulously. Furthermore, the need for religious in isolation to feel the companionship and affection of the rest of the brothers is also underlined, through the different options that technology offers today. And in any case, one remembers that “we are all in the hands of God the Father.”