Rwandan nuns killed in Yemen died as martyrs, says Bishop Mbonyintege

The two Rwandan nuns who were killed in an attack by gunmen in the war-torn Yemen’s port city of Aden last week will be remembered as martyrs, a Catholic cleric has said. 

Marguerite Mukashema, from Kivumu Parish in Kabgayi Diocese, and another only identified as Regine from Janja Parish, Ruhengeri Diocese, were killed on Friday when gunmen opened fire on an elderly home.

They were killed with other two nuns from India and Tanzania at an elderly and handicap care home run by Missionaries of Charity, a charity organisation founded by Mother Teresa, according to Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege, the speaker of the Catholic Church in Rwanda.

Although the death of the nuns is a blow, Bishop Mbonyintege said the Church in Rwanda is proud to have Rwandan nuns die as martyrs.

“We were informed of their deaths by the apostolic nuncio. We deeply regret their deaths but stay proud for their sacrifice that resulted in deaths. We consider them martyrs and they are,” he told The New Times yesterday.

Bishop Mbonyintege added that the deceased will not be brought to Rwanda but will be laid to rest in Yemen.

“Usually, when missionaries die, they are buried in countries where they have been serving. This means that they will be inhumed in Yemen. Although we are waiting for the decision of the congregation of sisters of charity in which they belong, there is little chance of their bodies coming,” he said.

Bishop Mbonyintege said the Christian community will visit their families and organise a requiem mass that will be held in Kivumu Parish, Kabgayi, on March 13.

He went on to explain that the mass will be time to recognise the mission accomplished by those nuns and to let other Christians know their sacrifice.

“They have set a good example of selflessness, serving in such unsafe country. That spirit compelled them to stay for the sake of others though they could have left.”

Nine more Rwandan nuns remain serving for Missionaries of Charity around the world, working for charity works like looking after orphans and the elderly.

This is the second time nuns are killed in Yemen after a similar attack left four other nuns dead in 1998.