( Custodia.org ) On Friday, March 11, the Patriarch of Jerusalem presided over a Mass in memory of the four sisters of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Charity who were murdered in Yemen. Saint Savior’s Church was packed for the ceremony. Many local Christians wanted to show the sisters their affection. With them, were men and women religious, as well as Mahesh Kumar, the Indian representative to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and representatives of the Greek-Orthodox, Armenian, Syriac, Coptic and Ethiopian churches.
The procession of the 60 concelebrants, including apostolic delegate Monsignor Giuseppe Lazzarotto, auxiliary bishop for Galilee Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Monsignor Salim Sayegh Bishop, auxiliary bishop and patriarchal vicar emeritus for Jordan, and Custos Pierbarttista Pizzaballa passed through the aisles where the missionary sisters of Charity from Nablus, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, surrounded their provincial from Amman and the superior general of the congregation, Mother Mary Prema Pierick, who had come from Calcutta (India) for the occasion.
A large poster with a picture of Mother Teresa smiling and an invitation to prayer had been placed near the choir in addition to the photo of the four sisters: Sister Anselm from India, Sister Margaret and Sister Reginette from Rwanda, and Sister Judith from Kenya.
The Mass in Arabic was collected but not gloomy. Moreover, the Patriarch in his English homily emphasized the glory of martyrdom and even concluded by saying, “We do not send our condolences, we congratulate you for the gift of their lives and yours, for all that you do to serve the poorest of the poor.”
After the celebration, in a joyful atmosphere, all those present were able to congratulate the sisters.
The Missionary Sisters of Charity came to the diocese in 1970. They are present in Gaza, Jerusalem, Nablus, Bethlehem, as well as in Jordan, Amman, Ermaimim and Rusaifeh.
In the Holy Land, the sisters run several welcome centers for the elderly and people with physical or mental disabilities. Some communities are more involved in visiting families, supporting the poor or teaching Sunday school.
Living in exemplary poverty so as “to be poor among the poor,” one can often see them going two by two.
The Holy Land is also home to a community of contemplative branch of friars of the Missionaries of Charity in Nazareth.
One week ago, on March 4, 16 people including four nuns were murdered in the complex of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, in southern Yemen.
The available evidence shows that the attack was anti-religious and anti-Christian in nature, whereas Aden, the capital, is usually the target of attacks perpetrated by Al Qaeda or the self-proclaimed Islamic state of the Levant.
The practice of religions other than Islam has declined steadily since the unification of Yemen in 1990. The fate of thousands of Christians has been totally eclipsed, since tensions are high between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, who make up 99 percent of the population.
In recent years, Christians in Yemen have consisted mainly of foreigners, refugees or temporary residents.
Monsignor José Rodríguez Carballo—the former Minister General of the Friars Minor and the now Secretary of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life—talked to the friars of the Custody about his experience during one of his recent visits, and he said that the sisters of Mother Teresa are now the sole Christian presence in Yemen.