The realities are difficult. 4 Brothers are hospitalised, 2 Brothers have died, one in connection with the pandemic. Overview with Bro Justino de Santiago, in Madrid.

 « A great affectionate greeting from Madrid on 22nd  March.

It is very difficult for me to write a few simple comforting words that can summarise what we are experiencing in Spain as a result of Covid 19, and especially in our communities and institutions.

Some information

I will briefly mention a few very difficult facts: at the moment, there are 28,572 cases of contagion in Spain, 10% of which are sanitary. The number of dead is 1790 -today Sunday, 22nd March, 394 more people than yesterday-. Madrid is in the worst situation with 9,702 positive cases and 1,021 deaths -almost 60% of the deaths in Spain, died in Madrid-.

Yesterday, Saturday, the government decided to extend the alert by 15 days because of the epidemic. We started on 15th March, after this extension, we will go until Tuesday, 14th April (including the time of Holy Week and the first days of Easter… leaving many Spaniards without their main source of income (tourism) and without a much desired holiday time for families.

Our communities

The communities of Brothers, experience the same exceptional situation as the rest of the families, educators, students of our schools: confined to their home, without being able to go out otherwise for indispensable reasons (pharmacy, some shopping of first necessities, etc.)

Until yesterday Saturday, we had only mild cases of more fragile health, several Brothers with fever were treated with paracetamol). All regular medical consultations have been cancelled…

Yesterday, (Saturday, 21st March) Brother Rafael Alonso, Provincial, informed us that the Brothers Lucas Sáinz (98), Javier García (77) and Dámaso Cereceda (79), who were at the Infirmary of Berrio-Otxoa (Bilbao) as well as Bro Pablo García (90), from the community of Berrio-Otxoa, Bilbao, had been transferred to the hospital in Santa Marina (suburbs of Bilbao) with symptoms and positive tests at Covid 19.

Their age and delicate health are the greatest concern at this time. We think and hope that they will be able to resist this infection without major consequences, this is what we ask to the Lord, while being aware of their delicate situation.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the brothers and health staff for their affection and dedication to the care and support of our Infirmary elders.

To conclude this message, Brother Rafael Alonso informs us of the death of Brother Virgilio Guierrez last night at the infirmary of Berrio-Otxoa. There is every reason to believe that it is the coronavirus. We know that, for the time being, there can be no funeral, but he will be buried in Nanclares.

We will celebrate the funerals later. We join his family and all Brothers and loved ones in these moments of sadness and distress. Let us give thanks to God for his life and ask him, now that he is close to the Father, to watch over us all.

Unfortunately, at midnight yesterday, another Brother in the infirmary died. He was not hospitalised.

This was written to us by Brother Rafa this morning:

«Dear Brothers, Brother Efrén Fernández passed away this evening … in a serene and silent manner shortly after he entered the hospital of Santa Marina. It appears that the coronavirus analysis gave a negative result in this case. We unite ourselves in the pain of this new loss, as well as in hope and faith. We pray for his family and for all the Brothers.»

Difficult moments, to maintain faith and trust in the Father!

Our institutions

The first strong decision in terms of education was taken by the Madrid community in the afternoon of Monday 9 March. That afternoon, she decided to close all schools (nurseries, primary, secondary, Bac and universities) in the community as of Wednesday, March 11.

The Children’s Olympiads are deserted.

At the Mennaisian College in Madrid, on Tuesday, it was necessary to assume this situation, never known until now, and to realise that it was a serious decision, that the reality was worrisome (we later saw that it was much stronger than we thought at the time). On that day, we organised with the students everything that was needed to move from chaos to a “different order” and that everyone showed their organisational abilities, their responsibilities and their skills in Digital that many were unaware of. All the students took home the very important work equipment, tools like iPads to work alone, which had already been established in the college for years!

Ana Virosta, Director of Madrid, link with the teams…

On Wednesday, each educator programmed the «online» work form of all students, their monitoring and evaluation. The original idea was to maintain the habits… To the extent possible, maintain the same academic schedule of the College but realized at home. The difficulty for families was to be able to «telework» and to reconcile work, the accompaniment of children with their own timetables and home tasks… It involved a lot of tension and fatigue…

A «Crisis Committee» has been set up at the college (composed of the management team and staff representatives) to monitor the situations experienced by students, educators, families… Since Thursday, 12th  March, all Executive Team meetings, Coordinators, Tutors Team, Evaluation meetings… are done through the Google Meet tool.

The meetings of tutors with families, of the monitoring of students by the educators, individually or in groups, are done through virtual classes, following the Online Platform of the College or with «Classroom».

All educators, administrative and service staff work from home. At the College only a few maintenance people work to be able to better perform some transformations.

In the other autonomous regions of the country

On Wednesday 11thMarch, the community of Rioja decided to close all schools (the Mennaisian college of Santo Domingo de la Calzada was therefore affected by this decision.)

Pedro, teacher from San Gregorio Aguilar with online courses

In the Basque Country, the decision to close completely began on Friday 13th March. This affected the establishments of San José de Nanclares de la Oca, Santa María de Portugalete and Berrio-Otxoa de Bilbao.

All schools were closed, following the Decree of the State of Emergency, which began throughout the Spanish State on Saturday,14th March.

It’s been one week… there are three more! Until after the Holy Week holidays!

Online contacts with the Mennaisian Family.

I take this opportunity to thank wholeheartedly the work of all the educators and those in charge of schools, as well as the families and students, who are not indifferent to their formation. It is tiring, hard, but we will come out strengthened. Courage!!

I think it’s the visual testimonies that are best… that’s why I’m sharing some significant testimonies.”

Bro Justino de Santiago


A Welcome Initiative: Video of the Educators of Madrid’s Menesiano College

Message Alfonso Blázquez, Director of Santa María, Portugalete:

Message from educators in Berrio-Otxoa, Bilbao:

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