Catholic religious brother dies of Ebola in Liberia

Health workers from UNICEF and partners visit the crowded Marché Niger to teach families in Guinea to protect against Ebola. Credit: UNICEF Guinea via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Saint Joseph’s Catholic Hospital and the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God in Liberia have announced that a hospital director passed away Aug. 2 after contracting the Ebola virus.

Brother Patrick Nshamdze, 52, had been a member of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God for 23 years. He reportedly contracted the Ebola virus on July 29, just two weeks after testing negative for the illness.

So far the Ebola virus has killed nearly 900 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. According to the World Health Organization, Ebola has no vaccine and no specific treatment. The virus is spread through direct contact with blood, secretions or other bodily fluids of infected persons. This outbreak has a fatality rate of around 60 percent, according to reports.

St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Monrovia is closed, as five other religious brothers with the virus have been quarantined, including two members of the Order of Saint John of God and three Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. The hospital’s administrator, originally from Ghana, also remains under observation.

According to the Madrid-based Juan Ciudad Foundation, which is connected with the Hospitaller order, only officials from the Ministry of Health are being allowed access to the hospital. So far they have preferred to avoid contact with those who are sick with the virus.

The superior general of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God, Father Jesus Etayo, called for more prayer for the sick and expressed thanks for the help received from NGOs.

The Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God was founded in Spain in the 16th century by John Ciudad, later known as St. John of God. The order cares for the poor, sick, homeless and dying. It operates in more than 50 countries, the order’s U.S. website says.


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Archbishop José H. Gomez

As I write, I’ve just read the sad news that 90 Christians have been kidnapped from two villages in Syria. Of course we were all shocked earlier this month by the news that 21 Coptic Christians were executed in Syria — killed, as Pope Francis said, “for the mere fact of being Christians.” 

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