Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Friday, 9 September 2022
Aden's nuns are Mother Teresa's seed in the land of Arabia
In a reflection sent to AsiaNews on the 25th anniversary of the death of the foundress of the Missionaries of Charity, Msgr. Martinelli recalls the nuns killed in Aden in 2016 by a jihadist commando. With their lives, and their deaths, they bore witness to "the love and presence of Christ". Even today, Yemen is marked by "war and suffering, especially for children". The sisters "have stayed" to continue their work in favour of the "poor, disabled". 

Monsignor Paolo Martinelli / Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen)  :

The "dedication" of the Missionaries of Charity to the lands and peoples of Arabia has its "roots" in the charism of Mother Teresa, right up to the extreme sacrifice of the Aden nuns who "through their lives, even unto death" bore witness to "love, to the presence of Christ who continues to give his life for all". In this reflection, sent to AsiaNews to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Madra Teresa, Msgr Paolo Martinelli recalls the tragedy that struck the nuns in Yemen on 4 March 2016, when their home for the elderly and needy was attacked by a jihadist group. In the attack, four nuns (Sister Anselma, Sister Judith, Sister Margarita and Sister Reginette) and 12 other people were killed "for reasons of faith", in addition to the kidnapping of the Indian Salesian Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, who was later freed after more than a year of imprisonment thanks to the mediation of Oman.


A few months ago the Bishop became Apostolic Vicar of South Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen) replacing Msgr Paul Hinder who remains Apostolic Administrator of North Arabia. He believes the presence of Christians and nuns in Yemen is "a humble sign of hope". "They have remained to continue the mission of helping the weakest, the disabled" according to the charism of Mother Teresa, who remains a source of "inspiration" for the mission. 


Following is Monsignor Martinelli's reflection:

I perceive the value of the testimony of the Aden nuns growing over time, even if somewhat silently. It is a true 'testimony'. We must always understand this word well: it is not just a 'good example' or 'consistency' with an idea. At the centre is not the person of the witness himself, but the One for whom one lives and gives one's life. Benedict XVI said that 'we become witnesses when, through our actions, words and way of being, an Other appears and communicates himself'. Behold, the witness of the Aden nuns through their whole life, until their death, communicates to us the love, the presence of Christ who continues to give his life for all. Through their witness, the loving face of Jesus appears.


The secret seems to me to lie in the expression 'being sent': Mother Teresa's sisters call themselves 'missionaries' of charity. To be missionaries is to be sent; it is not a voluntary commitment, but to know oneself chosen and sent by Jesus to the poorest. One lives one's mission not because it is successful but because one is sent and, in this sense, one is free from the outcome. It is a presence devoid of any proselytising intentions, but eager to serve anyone in need from a perspective of clear interfaith openness. Their service is open to all. Therefore the fruit of their sacrifice is secured in the mystery of God's love.


The witness of these sisters deeply nourishes the life of the Church, which is also why they are often remembered in the South Arabian Vicariate. I also personally keep a vivid memory of their sacrifice and often recall them in my prayers. Their testimony is indelible and will surely bear fruits of peace for all, while the memory of their sacrifice urges us to live our faith every day with joy and commitment.


The situation in Yemen today is still marked by the war that has been going on for many years, and we too have little news. A conflict that has caused the suffering of so many people, especially many children. The presence of Christians, and in particular the presence of the Missionary Sisters of Charity, is a humble sign of hope. Despite everything that has happened, the sisters have remained to continue their mission of charity, of helping the weakest, the disabled. This is a humble and strong sign of hope; their presence testifies that one can always begin again, that there is no circumstance in life in which one cannot love.


Finally, we must emphasize the origin, the charisma from which their mission originated: Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom we venerate today as a saint and who is a spectacular figure in the life of the Church. Her simplicity and her dedication without calculation are disarming. In her life, one perceives the gratuitousness of love, the dedication without calculation and without gain.


I myself had the opportunity to get to know her at the beginning of my priestly ministry when I often went to celebrate Holy Mass at the Missionary Sisters of Charity in Baggio (on the outskirts of Milan), where they still have a significant presence at the service of the poorest. Mother Teresa was visiting this community and I remember her humble determination to serve the poor for the love of Christ. She wanted everything in her sisters' home to be an expression of Christ's love for the poor. I was always struck by the deep connection that all the sisters lived between the Eucharist and charity towards all. The dedication of the Missionaries of Charity in Arabia is rooted in this charism that the Spirit gave to Mother Teresa and that she was able to transmit to the sisters.