Six years ago today these religious sisters died in Yemen.
Aden, Mar 4, 2022 / 17:10 pm (CNA).
Their chaplain, Father Tom Uzhunnalil, told them every day to be ready for martyrdom.
On this particular day in Yemen six years ago, the Missionaries of Charity sisters would be given a breathless warning that ISIS arrived to kill them. Four would die; the fifth would miraculously survive, protected, as her friend Sister Rio would say, to tell the story of their martyrdoms.
Several other workers would also perish, and Father Tom himself would be kidnapped for ransom.
The account of their martyrdom reveals the brutal manner of the deaths, the swiftness of the ISIS execution plan, but also the love of the residents and workers for the sisters and a miraculous moment of protection for Sister Sally, who reported the events to fellow Missionary of Charity, Sister Rio, and was transcribed by another member of her religious community.
According to the report, the sisters ran two-by-two in different directions while the superior ran to the convent to warn Father Tom. Sister Reginette and Sister Judith were caught first, tied up, and shot in the head, after which their heads were smashed. Sister Anselm and Sister Marguerite would face a similar fate, while workers who screamed “Do not kill the sisters!” were also shot.
Sister Sally warned the priest. She then watched the deaths of her sisters and the workers. Finally, she saw the members of ISIS march to the building to complete their mission by murdering the fifth sister.
They would be thwarted.
Sister Sally sought refuge in the refrigerator room within the convent “because the door was open.” At least three times her would-be killers went into the refrigerator room, where she remained standing behind the door. ISIS never saw her.
Meanwhile at the convent, Father Tom heard the screaming and decided to consume the hosts before he was taken away in a vehicle by the terrorists. All the religious items from the convent, the tabernacle, altar, crucifix, lectionary stand, prayer books and Bibles, were destroyed.
Completing their destructive mission, the killers left.
Father Tom was kidnapped and held hostage for 18 months by terrorists in Yemen. During that time, photos were released showing the Indian priest thin and with an overgrown beard, begging for help and for his release. The government of Oman and the Holy See worked for the priest’s release. He was freed Sept. 12, 2017.
The murdered nuns were Sister Anselm, from India, who would have turned 60 on May 8, 2016; Sister Judith, who was from Kenya, was born Feb. 2, 1975 and was 41 years old; Sister Margarita, originally from Rwanda, who was born April 29, 1971 and was 44 years old; and Sister Reginette, who was born in 1983 in Rwanda and was the youngest, at 32 years old.
In 2016, shortly after the attack, Bishop Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia said, “The missionaries of Charity died as martyrs: as martyrs of charity, as martyrs because they witnessed Christ and shared the lot of Jesus on the Cross.”