'Shocked': Two nuns dead, 28 sick with COVID-19 at Villa Hills monastery

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Posted at 1:42 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 15:07:21-05

VILLA HILLS, Ky. — Two Benedictine nuns have died of COVID-19, one was hospitalized in intensive care and over two dozen more tested positive for the virus at St. Walburg Monastery, a small religious community in Northern Kentucky.

In a statement posted Friday afternoon on Facebook, prioress Sister Aileen Bankemper wrote that 28 of the nuns had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The monastery’s website lists a total membership of 35.

Sister Charles Wolking and Sister Rita Bilz both died Feb. 3, Bankemper wrote. At the time of her statement, Sister Margaret Mary Gough was in intensive care at St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas for COVID-related respiratory issues.

Most of the remaining nuns are being treated by St. Elizabeth and “their symptoms are being managed pretty well,” according to Bankemper.

“We were shocked to have so many cases since we were being extremely careful, not going out and not having visitors since the beginning of the pandemic,” she added. “We redoubled our efforts after the holiday surge.”