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Ministry During COVID - Sr. Maggie McDermott, OP

By Katie Beckmann Mahon, Communications Manager

Before the pandemic, Sr. Maggie McDermott, OP, used to attend Mass every morning at St. Barnabus Church in the Bronx before she started her ministry as Executive Director of the Tolentine Zeiser Community Life Center.

Sr. Maggie McDermott, OP
Sr. Maggie McDermott, OP

Those daily masses were an ideal way to start her day, as once she arrived at her ministry, she was quite busy overseeing the pre-kindergarten program for three and four-year-olds.

When the pandemic hit, the kids went home, but the Tolentine Zeiser administration and teachers still showed up to work each day to teach children remotely from the school.

“I’ve been here for 43 years, and I’ve seen nothing like this. It’s been a difficult struggle,” shared Sr. Maggie, a Sister of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York.

For nine months, Sr. Maggie has had to navigate through this hectic time and stressful situations, varying from setting up remote learning, finding electronic learning devices for those who don’t have access to it at home, as well as creating a safe in-person learning experience.

Something else that Sr. Maggie has had to deal with is the consistent feeling of being “more nervous and conscious of the virus.”

Sr. Maggie McDermott, OP
Sr. Maggie McDermott, OP

Sr. Maggie explained, “I didn’t have the fear that I have now. I’m afraid for people, and I’m afraid for myself. Even though you trust in God, you know the reality.”

That reality has led Sr. Maggie to make some difficult decisions as she has not been able to visit the Blauvelt Motherhouse due to the number of people she sees daily at her ministry.

“Not being able to go to Blauvelt is a big loss for me. I miss seeing the sisters – they are my life.”

Even with the loss of not being able to visit Blauvelt, the fear of the virus, and new responsibilities, Sr. Maggie has made it a point to focus on the aspects of her ministry, which has kept her going for 43 years.

“I do it for God. I love what I do. I love my work and the people here. I try my best to be a service to people. It means more to me now than it ever did. I’m grateful that I can do it. Each day is a daily walk with God, and whatever happens, we need to make the most of it and trust in God to keep going.”


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