Freedom for Sister Gloria - a nun kidnapped in Africa!
This petition comes straight from a religious congregation of nuns - the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate - who help the poor in areas subject to Islamic extremism, and who have, as a result, suffered the recent abduction of one of their nuns, Sr Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti. In your charity, please read this petition and then consider signing it. Thank you.
UPDATE 21 February - The Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate have begun a prayer campaign (in Spanish) seeking the safe and immediate release of Sr Gloria.
On 7 February, our sister-in-religion, Sr Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, was abducted in Mali from our Franciscan Congregation of Mary Immaculate, in Karangasso village, near Koutiala, about 400 kilometers east of Bamako, the capital of the country.
Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti was deprived of her freedom against her will. And although we were told they would release her after two days, we are still waiting.
Her family and her Congregation need her. Without Sr Gloria, the works the community do in Karangasso, Mali, are now paralysed: caring for orphans; teaching adult women to read and write; dispensing needed medications; and, giving assistance to women.
The Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate emphatically reject the abduction of our Sister GLORIA CECILIA NARVÁEZ ARGOTI, which took place in Karangasso, Mali, and ask for her swift release.
Our Superior, Sr Noemi Quesada, described Sr Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, saying the following:
"She is a very committed woman, an educator who knows what the needs of the people are" (...) We ask Christians to pray for her liberation and for so many other Christians now detained in the East".
At the moment, no group or organisation has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
Testimony of Sr Claudia Natalia Vera Espinosa, Franciscan sister of Mary Immaculate also stationed at the mission of Karangasso (Mali)
At approximately 9:30 p.m., Sr Gloria Cecilia, Sr Sofia and I, Sr Claudia, were gathered in the recreation room of the convent. Meanwhile, Sr Adelaide was in the chapel.
When we heard the dogs barking in the corridor, I went out to see what was happening. Four men, black complexion, dressed in civilian clothes appeared. Three of them were young and carrying guns. The fourth, a little older, about fifty, was armed with a machete. The last one I describe was leading the group, and the dogs wanted to attack him. But, he defended himself using the machete on one of the dogs. I then shouted: "Please do not do anything to us".
Meanwhile Sisters Gloria Cecilia and Sofia ran to hide.
Sister Sofia went in the direction of her room and Sr Gloria Cecilia ran in the opposite direction, toward the kitchen.
The men brought me back into the room and told me to sit down. Just at that moment, I heard a door slamming. Sister Sophia had managed to lock herself in her room with a key. And, as the men tried to knock down her door, she took refuge under the bed making calls for help.
Shortly after, I heard the cry of Sr Gloria Cecilia. The men stopped her and forced her back into the room.
She sat down and begged them not to do anything...that we had orphaned children in care, that we were missionaries, that we were Colombians, that we had no money.
It was then that we were told that they were jihadists...although no one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, according to the local diocese.
At that time, the man who told us that they were jihadists left us to the charge of the others who were armed and searching the rooms. We heard heavy blows. Sister Sofia later told me that they were trying to beat down her door.
Thank God the men could not knock it down. But, the men suddenly returned to the living room and started to pack the four computers we had, to take away with them.
Then, the following 'dialogue' between the jihadist leader and Sister Gloria Cecilia began:
- Jihadi: The two, or, at least one, of you will come with me.
- Sr GC: Me. I'm the eldest.
- Jihadi: And who is the leader or the superior?
- Sr GC: I am.
- Jihadi: How much would you pay for her [freedom]?
He was referring to me (Sr Claudia). Sister Gloria Cecilia did not respond.
After the tense silence, the man ordered one of the other armed men to accompany Sister Gloria Cecilia, and to retrieve her passport.
She returned with her purse in hand.
- Jihadi: Give me the money.
- Sr GC: I only have what is in the wallet (30,000 francs - roughly 43 Euro or $48 USD)
- Jihadi: And, where is the safe?
- Sr GC: We do not have money.
Then, the same man then ordered me to go for my passport. And so, another armed man escorted me to my room. I took the wallet with my documents (passport, Colombian citizenship card, vaccination card, etc.) and returned to the recreation room.
After removing my papers, they took me to another room and I was monitored by an armed man.
From the other room, I hear that man ask Sr Gloria Cecilia for the keys to the car.
Then, I heard the car going out of the garage. At that point, the man who had been giving orders came to me and told me to stay in that room for at least three hours. They locked me up.
From the room, I heard a great blow as if they had knocked down the door of the entrance to the house. Then, I heard some shouting, but I did not understand what they said. Finally, I heard a shot, which Sister Adelaide also heard, as she later told me.
When they were gone, I managed to get out of my room. I heard Sr Sofia talking on the phone. After several attempts, with the help of a local friend, we managed to open Sr Sofia's door. Shortly thereafter Sister Adelaide arrived, and all three of us were together. But, our Sister Gloria Cecilia was missing.
The bishop has relocated us because he fears that the men will return to the house. So, for the moment, all the activities of the convent have stopped: the orphanage, the attention to the mothers, etc...
We have since learned that the men left our ambulance (the vehicle they stole) relatively close to the houses where they had left their bikes.
Some reports say that they went to Burkina Faso, others that the local authorities may have arrested two suspects. But, right now, we know nothing.
The kidnappers told us they would return her in two days, but, as the days go by, we know nothing of our Sister, Gloria Cecilia.
We call on the authorities in Mali, and the surrounding West African countries, to make every effort to locate and ensure a safe and speedy return of our Sister.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
"I am ready to give my life to the Lord, to the Congregation, wherever it is His Holy Will". (letter of 26/01/2001, Sr. Gloria Cecilia)