This article, from the Catholic Register, is by Jennifer Roche.
Amid the Bloodshed, Libya’s Nuns Continue to Serve Those in Need
BY JENNIFER ROCHE 11/27/2012
Last year the Register published my article “Uncertain Future for Christians in Libya,” which discussed the historical and current challenges facing the Church’s mission in this important North African country. Following the recent terrorist attack that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three security personnel in Benghazi, serious questions continue to surface about the safety of the religious working there.
Despite the chaotic fallout from Libya’s revolutionary war, most Catholic religious have remained in the country to provide humanitarian aid. Among the Church’s small local community, there are approximately 100 sisters of various nationalities who work in hospitals and health-care centers throughout the country.
Since the war, considerable improvement has been made in the area of communication. During the conflict, the phones and Internet were down so it was impossible to contact these religious communities by email or phone. Recently, however, I successfully communicated by phone and email with two Libyan communities.
Sister Rosy Xavier, a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary community at the “La Source” convent in Gargaresh, remains optimistic about her order’s future in Libya. Originally from India, Sister Rosy speaks English well and works as a nurse with the handicapped and the elderly. Her community has just four members, but three European sisters from France, Poland and Spain are now visiting to assist them. Some Franciscan fathers also live nearby and serve their community.
Sister Rosy explained that the sisters work in the local hospital and serve freely as Catholic nuns in this predominately Muslim country. When asked about security concerns, Sister Rosy emphatically said, “ At present, we have no problems here. Our neighbors are so good with us.”
Added Sister Rosy, “Even during the war, we did not leave, and we had no troubles at all.”
Regarding the attack on the U.S. Embassy, she said, “The Libyan people are feeling very bad. There is a lot of apology from them to the U.S.” She said that most Libyans assert, “The attacks were not because of us, but because of the terrorists in Benghazi.”
Sister Priscilla Isidore, a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea, is another Catholic religious working in Libya. Originally from Tanzania, she has served here for 16 years and currently works as a nurse. “Because the Lord is our hope, we will continue with our work among the sick and injured people here and, if necessary, to die with them,” Sister Priscilla affirmed. “That’s our mission. That’s why Christ sent us here.”
The humanitarian mission of these Catholic sisters corresponds with the late Ambassador Stevens’ initiatives to improve Libya’s medical care. Although the Church and the U.S. government are sometimes at odds over health-care matters, their goals are united in trying to rebuild the Libyan health-care system.
In a statement issued by the Vatican press office in late October, the Holy See assured the Libyan people that it would “continue to offer its witness and selfless service, in particular in the field of charity and health care, and is committed to generously helping to rebuild the country.” (Read more here.)