(CNS) For Benedictine Sister Vivian Ivantic, these times are not unprecedented.
Sister Ivantic was born in 1913, five years before the Spanish flu pandemic that began in 1918. Now, the Chicago woman religious can add the novel coronavirus to the deadly illnesses she has escaped.
The 1918 pandemic infected an estimated 500 million people and killed at least 50 million, including about 675,000 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 30 million people have been infected with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and more than 848,000 have died, including 183,000 people in the United States as of Sept. 1.
Sister Ivantic had COVID-19 symptoms in April and recovered. Her symptoms were so mild, she thought she just had a cold.
“I think I’m too old to be set back very much,” she said. “I’ve been very, very fortunate.”
At 107, Sister Ivantic is the oldest living Benedictine in the world, her community says.
Most of her career was spent as a teacher, librarian and archivist.
“I’ve done lots of different things,” she said, noting that she taught third graders and high school Latin as well as being a librarian.
She needs assistance to walk now and uses a wheelchair when she goes outside to feed the squirrels. She also appreciates retirement.