“It is time to give back what God has given me”: Congolese Nun at Italian COVID-19 Centre

Sister Angel Bipendu (Right) makes home visits within Zogno, a commune of 9,000 in the province of Bergamo, where the coronavirus has killed about 2,000 people.

A nun from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a “frontline soldier” against COVID-19 in Italy as a medical doctor, recently described her service as giving back to humanity the gift of God to her.

Sr. Angele Bipendu, a doctor in a hospital in Bergamo for the past two years, joined a health care unit specifically responsible for visiting the homes of COVID-19 patients.

“Seeing that there were many doctors who were sick, many doctors who died, there were many patients who had no help and who had no follow-up,” Sr. Angele said in a recent interview with Vatican News and added, “That's why I said voluntarily I'm going to give something away too. God has given me a gift; it is time now that I can give back what God has given me.”

Sr. Angele went on to explain what motivates her in the service as nun and medical personnel saying, “Being a religious, I have dedicated myself to giving my life to others. By giving my life to others, I also accepted to be a doctor to help those who need me even more. That is why I have tried to reconcile, to put together the two gifts I received, religious life and medicine.”

“Being a nun, I also promised God to say yes, so wherever he sends me, I'll go. That's why I opened my door; I said to myself Lord here I am, send me wherever you want. I went without fear of being contaminated or infected.” the 47-year-old member of the Sisters of the Redeemer said.


She added, “I gave myself personally. Going to visit the sick house by house. I visit them and assess their conditions. I try to give them therapy along the lines that lead us during this time."

She termed the situation in Bergamo in Northern Italy that has been the epicenter of COVID-19 in the European nation as “complex” and “serious.”

“It's a complex situation. It's very serious. From those we can hear and those we can see and understand; we find ourselves in a situation that no one could have imagined. We found ourselves facing a very difficult situation,” she said. 

“I see fear, I see uncertainty, I see distress. I see everything in these patients here,” she shared and added in reference to situation of the people she is serving, “They have a little bit of everything, especially fear, the fear of dying, the fear of not getting better; fear of not seeing everything they need; fear of being confined to the house, it's disastrous.”

Amid the challenges, the nun said, “God gives us the strength and the courage to go beyond our capacities to visit these tried and tested patients, these fearful patients, the patients who do not know what to do since they think that the end of their lives is death with COVID-19.”

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“God has given us these gifts of healing. Not only to heal, but also to provide moral and spiritual support, especially for those we care about,” she added.

Since the pandemic struck the country, Sr. Angele has had to change her schedule to enable her to serve as a doctor.

“I've lost even the normal rhythm. Sometimes, I even stay up all night. I start at 8 p.m. and finish at 8 a.m.,” she said adding that whenever she gets the chance to rest, she “start(s) to review the cases that seem very difficult to me.”

“I begin to think a bit to see if I haven't done well for my patients and if this same situation can be repeated tomorrow, what I can do to improve,” she said.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.