1918 Pandemic

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Passionists and the 1918 Spanish Influenza. By Rob Carbonneau, C.P., Ph.D. Passionist Historian, St. Paul of the Cross Province. March 15, 2020. Email [email protected]  

The present 2020 COVID-19 virus has been compared to the !918 Spanish Influenza. On Friday 13 March, I spent the morning digging through the Passionist Historical Archives located at the Special Collections, The University of Scranton. Luckily found some fascinating information. Other sources were found at St. Ann’s Monastery Archives, Scranton.

This year, as the Passionists celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding (1720-2020) we are reminded as to how many ways the Passion of the Cross is part of everyday life. With this solemn and sacred understanding let us ponder this time of suffering in 2020. This is a moment when have an opportunity to understand each other with compassion, care and faith. History reminds us to be humble. History reminds us to be courageous. History us to be wise. History reminds us to respect our common humanity.    

Click on this link to understand the 1919-1920 response the United States Passionists to the Spanish Influenza. Learn and see archival documents how St. Paul of the Cross Passionist monastery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania had to cancel church services as mandated by the Commonwealth and local officials. At St. Joseph’s Monastery, Baltimore there was written a page long report on the how local Catholics were impacted.  Read how a Passionist priest in Corpus Christi, Texas was preaching and suddenly was infected and died. In Brighton, Massachusetts, the men’s retreat at St. Gabriel’s Monastery were cancelled. Most compelling is the documentation that shows how St. Ann’s Monastery in Scranton was also required to cease all church service. Sadly, one seminarian contracted the flu, eventually sent on to White Haven Sanitarium in Northeast Pennsylvania for care but, in the end, returned to the Scranton monastery to die peacefully surrounded by his fellow Passionists. Two other Passionists were associated with reaching out to care for those suffering from the epidemic.  

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