It was Luke Edison who said, “you haven't lived life to the fullest until you've found something worth dying for”.
Some 19 missionaries in Algeria found themselves living in a time of great danger and their lives were threatened. All foreigners were given an ultimatum; to leave the Country or they will be targeted. The missionaries had the option to leave but they found something worth dying for; the love of God and the flock entrusted to them. 22 years later, the Church has recognised their sacrifice and decided to honour them.
They are Bishop Pierre Claverie O.P., 7 Trappist Monks, 4 White Fathers, 1 Marist Brother, 6 Nuns including Sr Jean Littlejohn of Maltese descent. They were murdered during the Algerian Civil war between 1994 and 1996. The cause for their beatification opened in 2007 and at the beginning of this year, Pope Francis signed the decree confirming that they died in “odium fidei” (hatred of the faith) thus recognizing them as martyrs.
On December 8th the ceremony of their beatification will take place in the Cathedral of the Diocese of Oran, where Mgr Pierre Claverie O.P. was Bishop. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (Malta), Sr Yvonne Gera, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary who worked in Algeria for 22 years and knew each of the 19 martyrs personally, told ACN: “They all worked with the people; helping the poor, the sick, the children and despite the war, they did not leave. They continued taking care of the people.”
According to Sr. Gera, the Church suffered in Algeria a lot. But it was a Church of presence. Everyone was welcomed and everything was free. Sr Gera encourages missionaries working in war-torn countries: “It is difficult but the Lord has called us. If the people suffer, we suffer with them. It is our vocation and the Lord is always there to help us even in suffering or in martyrdom”.
On the occasion of the beatification of these Martyrs in Algeria on 8th December 2018, Aid to the Church in Need (Malta) will issue a booklet about their mission carried out among the people of God.
Those interested are kindly requested to call 21487818 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.