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The Church of Jerusalem prays for the four sisters martyred in Yemen

The Church of Jerusalem prays for the four sisters martyred in Yemen

JERUSALEM – On Friday March 11, 2016, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, presided over a mass for the four sisters killed in Yemen on March 4th. In the morning of the same day, he had welcomed Sr. Prema, Superior General of the Congregation, at the Patriarchate.

On Friday March 4, 2016, four Missionary of Charity sisters – Sisters Anselme, Judith, Marguerite and Reginette – were massacred in Yemen by an armed group, which forced its way inside retirement home run by the religious community. Twelve others from the same home were killed. Out of the 16 victims, five were Christians.

Patriarch Fouad Twal and Bishop William Shomali welcomed on Friday morning the Superior General of the Congregation, Sr. Mary Prema. HB thanked the community for their commitment in the Holy Land and for their steadfastness, especially in their mission in Gaza. The Congregation counts alone eight communities in the Patriarchate: four in Jordan and four in Israel and in Palestine – Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nablus and Gaza. They discussed together the tragic massacre of these four sisters , one of them, Sr. Anselme, having served in the diocese in Jordan.

The mass was celebrated  for  the victims at St Saviour’s Church in the Old City of Jerusalem, in presence of the community of the Missionaries of Charity, of Archbishop Giuseoppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, Bishop Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Bishop Salim Sayegh, Patriarchal Vicar Emeritus for Jordan, as well as representatives of local Churches.

In his homily, Patriarch praised the courage of these sisters whose martyrdom is the “highest witness of their love for Christ. They have sacrificed everything to follow and to serve Jesus in the most troubled areas of the Middle East”. While fighting has intensified in Yemen over the last months, the community refused to quit the country in order to stay with the local community. Patriarch Fouad Twal thanked the Congregation for their apostolate and devotion “though we mourn the loss of their precious life, we are comforted by the hope which their blood may carry fruits of peace to the people they were serving, in the Middle East and also in the Holy Land.  (…) For the religious family of the Missionaries of Charity, at the same time contemplative and active, (…) we are not offering our condolences, but we want to express our deep gratitude for your unconditional love for Our Lord and for all what you are doing to serve the Church, the distressed and the poorest of the poor. May the Lord bless our martyr sisters, offering them eternal happiness in His presence in Heavenly Jerusalem” The Patriarch ended his homily calling on the faithful to pray also for Fr. Uzhunnalil, the Salesian priest kidnapped during the assault at the retirement home.

Moreover a mass was celebrated in Amman, Jordan, by Bishop Maroun Lahham, during which a word of condolences from Pope Francis was read, wishing that this “this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue”.

Thomas Charrière with Telepace