By Maggie Maslak and Alan Holdren
Sister Anslem, Sister Reginette, Sister Judith, and Sister Marguerite were serving as caretakers at the Missionaries of Charity’s convent and nursing home in Aden, Yemen.
These sisters left their homes in India and Africa to serve the poor, elderly, and disabled in the war-torn country of Yemen. They worked together with volunteers at the convent’s home care center, where they served around sixty to eighty patients of all religions.
“They were serving all poor people irrespective of their religion. Their duty was to help the poor,” a representative from the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia told CNA.
But on March 4, the convent was attacked by two gunmen who killed Sr. Anslem, Sr. Judith, Sr. Marguerite, and Sr. Reginette, along with sixteen other victims, including volunteers from Ethiopia and Yemen. Each victim was found handcuffed and shot in the head.
No residents of the nursing home were harmed.
Pope Francis called the sisters “martyrs of today” who “gave their blood for the Church.”
According to a statement from the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, Sr. Anslem was from Ranchi, India and would have turned 60 years old on May 8. Sr. Judith was from Kenya and had just turned 41 years old on Feb. 2. Sr. Marguerite was from Rwanda and would have been 44 years old on April 29. The youngest nun, Sr. Reginette, was from Rwanda and would’ve turned 33 on June 29.
Since the attack, the Missionaries of Charity’s nursing home has been relying on the aid of volunteers and government support to continue their care of the elderly, which has lasted for 24 years in Aden.
“Now, the local government is taking care of the elderly with the help of some volunteers, university students and young people,” the representative said.
The convent’s superior, Sister Sally, was originally reported missing during the attack, but she has since been declared safe.
“Sister Sally is safe and I think she will go to her regional superior’s house that is in Jordan,” the representative added.
However, Salesian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil is still missing after his reported abduction. Fr. Uzhunnalil is an Indian priest who had been staying with the sisters and has not been found since the attack on March 4.
No group has claimed responsibility for the onslaught against the Missionaries of Charity convent, but the country of Yemen is in the midst of a year-long civil war which has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people.