Remembering the lives of the three Xaverian Missionary nuns murdered in Burundi over the weekend, the order’s vicar general hailed them as simple women in love with God and those they served. “For me, (since) I entered as a youth they gave me a great example of people enamored with Jesus, enamored with the people among whom they lived,” Sr. Silvia Marsili, Vicar General for the Xaverian Missionaries, told CNA Sept. 11. “They had the ability to make friends, to use their capacities in the field of health, Lucia; in the field of catechesis, Olga; in the field of the promotion of women, Bernadette,” she said. They “were people capable of entering into others, meeting them, welcoming them with love.” Sr. Lucia Pulici, 75, and Sr. Olga Raschietti, 82, were found raped and brutally murdered in their dormitory on Sunday. The remains of 79-year-old Sr. Bernadetta Boggian, who had discovered the bodies of her fellow sisters, were found the following day. A Mass was held for the sisters on Wednesday in Bunjubura. Their remains were then transferred to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they had served for several years before coming to Burundi. The life of a missionary, Sr. Marsili explained, “is a call to follow Jesus in his total donation to God and to our brothers and sisters.” “When you agree to follow the Lord in this way, you are willing to give your whole life, to put all of our strength, all of our capacities, health, everything, at the service of this program of life,” she said, noting that that “the mission may result in the risk of life.” Currently the congregation is “suffering a lot” and “we feel the absence of our sisters,” the nun said, “and at the same time we live it with faith…because the risk of dying for the Lord, for our brothers and sisters, is part of our lives.” Sr. Marsili recalled how she had met each of the three sisters at their house in Italy when they passed through or came for a period of rest. Although she did not spend a lot of time with them, the nun observed that there were many opportunities to see and be with them. “They were sisters who had spent themselves until the end, they were sisters by now old, by now poor in health, but with, I would say, a stubbornness to go back to the mission despite the fact that someone advised against it.” “By now you are old, what can you do?” she asked, pointing out that instead of resigning, they re-committed themselves “in simplicity, also in reduced physical strength” because they “wanted to continue serving, and to be close to these peoples with so much love.” The sisters, she said, “give us a witness of the affection and solidarity that the sisters who are in the Congo are experiencing on the part of not only the religious, priests, ecclesiastical authorities, civilians, but also of many simple people who the sisters loved in their everyday encounters.” Burundi police have already arrested a man in connection with the murders. A police spokesmen said that Christian Butoyi, 33, confessed to the crime, alleging that the parish had been built on property owned by his parents. However the president of the Burundi Bishops’ Conference, Banshimiyubusa Gervais, has called for the establishment of an independent commission that will further investigate the reasons behind the attack. Believing that the answer given by Butoyi does not reflect his true motivations, the bishop is encouraging investigators not only to push for further answers, but to discover if he worked alone, or had an accomplice. Although she has only read about the investigation in the news, Sr. Marsili explained that “I think it's justified because the action of this person is absurd.” “That which has been said in the press leaves us very perplexed...also the motivations this person have don't seem to justify such an act.”
Catholic News Agency was founded in 2004, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization." It is an apostolate of EWTN News.