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Fidelity to mission

This is the dramatic story by the surviving Sister on the assault to the nursing home for the elderly and the disabled. Four sisters were killed along with their employees because of their fidelity to their mission.

Because of their loyalty, they found themselves in the right place at the right time, ready to welcome their Spouse." With these words, Sister Rio described the sacrifice of the Missionary Sisters of Charity massacred in Aden, Yemen, on March 4 for "religious reasons." The nun recorded the dramatic testimony of Sister Sally, Superior of the home for the elderly and disabled attacked by the militants of the Islamic State (IS). The sole survivor, Sister Sally, entrusted the story to Sister Rio.

The Sisters had Mass, followed by breakfast. As usual, the priest stayed back in the chapel to say prayers, then to fix things around the compound. At 8:00 a.m., they said the apostolate prayer and then all five went home. At 8:30 a.m., IS gunmen dressed in blue came in, killed the guard and the driver.

Five young Ethiopian Christian men began running to tell the Sisters that IS men were there to kill them. The Sisters ran two by two in different directions. Four women employees were screaming: “Don’t kill the Sisters! Don’t kill the Sisters!” One was the cook, who had been with us for 15 years. She was killed.

The Sisters were killed one by one. They caught Sr. Judith and Sr. Reginette first, tied them up, shot them in the head and smashed their heads. When the Sisters ran in different directions, the Superior ran to the convent to try to warn Father Tom.

IS men caught Sr. Anselm and Sr. Marguerite, tied them, shot them in the head and smashed their heads in the sand. Meanwhile, the Superior could not get to the convent. It is not clear how many IS were there.

Miraculous escape

She saw all the Sisters and workers killed. The IS men were already getting to the convent so she went into the refrigerator room since its door was open. These IS men were everywhere, searching for her, as they knew there were five. At least three times they came into the refrigerator room. She did not hide but remained standing behind the door –they miraculously never saw her.

Meanwhile, at the convent, the priest had heard the screaming and consumed all the hosts. He had no time to consume the large host, so he threw the oil out of the sanctuary lamp and dissolved it in the water.

A neighbor saw the IS gunmen put ting Father Tom in their car. No trace of the priest was found anywhere. All the religious articles were smashed and destroyed – the statue of Our Lady, the crucifix, the altar, the tabernacle, the lectionary stand, even their prayer books and Bibles.

Sr. Sally came to get the bodies of the Sisters. She got them all. She went to the patients, one by one, to see if they were OK. All were fine. No one was hurt.

The police arrived at about 10:30 a.m. and tried to take Sr. Sally out of there but she refused to leave the people who were crying, “Don’t leave us; stay with us.” The police forced her to go. She took one set of clothes and the Sisters’ bodies, and the police brought them to an international hospital called “Doctors Without Borders” for protection. As there was not enough room in the mortuary of that hospital for the Sisters’ bodies, the police brought them to a bigger hospital mortuary.

Sr. Sally told Sr. Rio she was so sad because she was alone and did not die with her Sisters. Sr. Rio comforted her and told her: “Who would have found the Sisters’ bodies and who would have ever told us what happened? God wanted us to know.”

In the right place

Aden is a rich city – a port city. Aden wanted to be its own state, so they got IS in to help them fight against Yemen. So IS won for Aden. That was the war last year, with all the bombings. They won, so that was over but IS won’t leave. They want to take over and exterminate any Christian presence. They did not kill the Sisters in the war because they had no political reason to waste time on them. But since, they are the only Christian presence, and IS wants to get rid of all Christianity, they were killed. So they are real martyrs; they died because they are Christians. They could have died so many times in the war but God wanted it to be clear they are martyrs for the faith.

Sr. Rio said that Sr. Sally is fully surrendered. The police are trying to get her out because IS will just keep hunting for her until they kill her. But she told Sr. Rio: “Whatever God wants.” She also added that other Muslims are so respectful of them. She asked to pray that the Sisters’ and their workers’ blood will be the seeds for peace in the Middle East and to stop IS.

She believed that if they had kidnapped Father Tom, most probably they will wait for two days, then ask, in exchange for Father Tom, either money or the release of their members held in prison.

Sr. Rio said the Sisters were so faithful in their service that IS knew exactly their ins and outs and, therefore, when to attack them. And because of their faithfulness, they were in the right place at the right time and were ready when the Bridegroom came.

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