Modern-day Martyrs

Modern-day Martyrs

Perhaps you heard the awful news of what happened in the southern city of Aden in the country of Yemen.  Four Missionaries of Charity Sisters, and 12 volunteers who helped them, were massacred by Islamic terrorists.

From L-R: Sr. Anselm, Sr. Reginette, Sr. Judith, Sr. Marguerite. Credit: The Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia.

Ave Maria University mourns the tragic death of these lovely women from Mother Teresa’s order, and honors their heroic faith and witness.  Because our university is uniquely dedicated to honoring Mother Teresa’s memory and continuing her work, our hearts are particularly heavy with grief.  Even the thought of their reunion with Mother Teresa in heaven is of no consolation at this moment.

These Sisters cared for the elderly and disabled in war-ravaged Yemen and went to bed each night wondering whether they, too, would be carried off in the waves of cruel hatred that roil parts of Africa and the Middle East.  On March 4th, they were.

On that day Islamic extremists stormed their home and executed them .  The Superior of the home, Sr. Sally, M.C., fortunately was alerted by a gate attendant and was able to scurry to safety behind a door while she watched in horror the slaughter of innocent women. Not only were the Sisters killed, all 12 volunteers who worked with the Sisters in caring for the Muslim residents God had entrusted to them, were summarily killed, including the gate attendant.  Like the Sisters, they were shot at point-blank range.  The Indian missionary priest, Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian, who was in the ward blessing the sick when the terrorists entered, was bound and abducted by the killers. While Sr. Sally is now safely out of Yemen, Father Tom remains missing.  

Pope Francis was quick to publicly acclaim the Sisters as “martyrs of today who gave their blood for the Church.” He also was quick to condemn the “senseless and diabolical violence” that ended their lives.

There can be no doubt that the six men who did these evil things cooperated with Satan.  They killed the nuns because the Sisters were Christian, and they killed the volunteers (likely all Muslims) because they labored alongside of Christians.  Whenever you see human dignity degraded and religious liberty attacked, you see the Evil One at work.  The carnage in Yemen cries out to God for justice.  His mercy alone is sufficient in answer!

Pope Francis hoped that the killings would “awaken consciences.” I am sure he was referring to terrorists and others motivated by religious hatred.  But he also meant ours as well. 

Are we praying for our fellow Christians in the Middle East? Have we grown numb to news like this? 

Fr. Gary Duckworth, one of Mother Teresa’s priests, wrote to me and said that God chose these nuns “for a very great sacrifice and very great glory.”

As we soon turn our attention to the Passion of Jesus and the accounts of the “Suffering Servant,” let us pray for those grieving these senseless deaths, the repose of the dead, the consolation of Sr. Sally, and the return of Father Tom.  May our consciences be awakened and enlivened by the example of the Church’s latest martyrs!