SAINT MARY-OF-THE-WOODS, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods announced Monday they will reopen all public grounds and buildings on Monday, May 24. Additionally, public mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception is returning and will begin 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 23.
In a press release sent Monday, the Catholic women’s congregation announced all sisters have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and are eager to welcome visitors again. Many of the campus buildings and public facilities have been shut down since March 2020 and many of the sisters have been very cautious and isolated since then, General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski said.
Dawn said the decision to shut down campus was out of an overabundance of caution. “Given the fact that many of the Sisters of Providence who live at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods were among the most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, it was not difficult to make the hard decision to follow the directives of both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana Health Department to lock down our campus,” she said.
Throughout the pandemic, community members were allowed limited access to some of the Woods’ outdoor facilities and shrines. Furthermore, Dawn said some friends of the sisters came by to greet them through windows while standing outside.
“The very places that might offer people comfort and solace during these hard times – the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore – were not available,” she said. “We were gratified that many people did walk our campus and take advantage of its peace and serenity when outdoor activities were encouraged in place of those indoor ones that might jeopardize people’s health.”
Areas on campus set to reopen to the public include the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Providence and the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Retail stores such as Linden Leaf Gifts and Farm Store at White Violet Center will also reopen May 24.
The congregation is requesting all visitors to stay aware of existing safety protocols, like wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands. All people, including those who are vaccinated, will be required to wear a properly-fitting mask to enter all facilities.
“It is with great joy that we are open to visitors again,” Dawn said. “We have missed the many friends who attend.”