Friday 12 December 2014

Rome, Italy - The relics of the three Xaverian sisters killed in September in Burundi are delivered to Saint Bartholomew

This past Friday, in Rome, in the Basilica of Saint Bartholomew on Tiber Island, a ceremony took place for the delivery of a few objects that had belonged to the three Italian Xaverian Missionaries Sisters of Mary slain this past September in Kamenge, an low-income neighborhood in the periphery of Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi.
Bernardetta Boggian, Lucia Pulici, and Olga Raschietti, all of them elderly, died in the heart
of that Africa to whom they had dedicated their life of mission, helping the last ones until the very end, victims of a crime that has not yet been explained and maybe will never be fully explained.
The three sisters worked with the Xaverian missionaries in the parish of Saint Guido Maria Conforti, promoting the reconciliation among ethnic groups, opening work training laboratories, for the youth and the women of that place. Pope Francis, in remembering their “tragic death” had wished that “the spilled blood would become a seed of hope to build an authentic brotherhood among people.”
The whole life of Bernardetta, Lucia and Olga was a sign of brotherhood, a choice to integrate with God’s people to whom they were sent, to the point of assimilating their language and, with it, their suffering and hopes. Among the mementos that were delivered to the Basilica which safeguards the memories of the witnesses of faith of the twentieth and twenty-first century is the small catechism book in Swahili of sister Olga. She wrote: “In my service as a catechist I meet many young people, adults, children who desire to know Jesus and prepare to receive him in their hearts. They too discover that living in God’s will gives peace and serenity in confronting life.” Also included was sister Bernardetta’s Kirundi version of the Lord’s Prayer and the cross and rosary of sister Lucia which reflect the three sisters’ compassion, i.e. willingness to suffer together with the people of the Great lakes region who are being overwhelmed in these years by the demons of ethnic and predatory violence. Sister Bernardetta had said: “We are happy to be a Church which, sustained by the Gospel, announces, denounces, serves, comforts, and remains the point of reference for all of the people. The gratitude showed to us by the people because we stand by them
even in the face of the current difficulties gives us joy”.
Their bodies were buried in African land as they had wished. Sister Lucia had written: “I have already warned: if I die, leave me there. I have always desired to die in Africa in order to be resurrected on the last day together with the African people, the people to whom the Lord has sent me”. Their memory transcends boundaries and time and becomes a call to love and to the giving of oneself. The website of the Xaverian missionaries states: “The assassin did not take anything away from Lucia and the other sisters, did not truncate their mission but instead brought it to fruition. He allowed them to say the last word, to give their life all the way to the end. He thought he was stealing their life but they had already donated it”.

1 comment:

  1. May God teach us to love by scarifying our lives to serve others