The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Thursday, October 03, 2002
Martyrs of Charity

by Sister Clare Boehmer, ASC

In October of 1992 five Adorers of the Blood of Christ were killed in the civil war that had been raging in Liberia since December of 1989. The exact circumstances of and reasons for their deaths probably will never be known. It is believed that Sisters Barbara Ann Muttra and Mary Joel Kolmer were caught in the crossfire of an ambush as they drove one of their workers from Gardnersville to Barnersville on October 20. Three days later soldiers of Charles Taylor, then the commander of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), lined up Sisters Kathleen McGuire, Agnes Mueller, and Shirley Kolmer in front of their convent in Gardnersvile. The soldiers then shot and killed them in cold blood.

This year is the tenth anniversary of the deaths of the five women whom Pope John Paul II has called "Martyrs of Charity." These articles tells the interwoven stories of the Adorers’ mission in Liberia and work of these five who live still in the hearts of their sisters, families, and friends and in the hearts of the Liberian people whom they loved.

Adorers of the Blood of Christ from the United States Province began working with the church in Liberia, West Africa in 1971 when Sisters Bonita Wittenbrink and Alvina Schott established the first ASC mission on the Kru coast in Grand Cess. In 1973, Sisters Alvina Schott, Virginia Walsh, and Mary Evelyn Nagle opened a second mission in Gardnersville just outside of the capital city of Monrovia. On January 12, 1982, Sisters Barbara Ann Muttra and Antoinette Cusimano began working with the Liberian people in Bomi County and established a mission at Kle in Bomi County. Until the civil war forced their return to the States in August, 1990, the Adorer's presence in Liberia was uninterrupted as they engaged in health care, education, and parish work among the people of Grand Cess, Gardnersville, and Kle.

Although there have been no Adorers working in Liberia since October of 1992, the people of Liberia have remained close to the hearts of U.S. Adorers. Over the past ten years the Adorers have supported the education of several Liberian young women living in the United States and in Liberia and have worked for the cause of peace and justice in that country that remains torn by civil war.

The five Martyrs of Charity continue to live in the hearts of the Liberian people. In June of 1993, the Sister Barbara Ann Muttra Memorial Health Center and the Sister Agnes Mueller Memorial Maternity Center were dedicated in Gardnersville. The school at St. Mulumba's parish in a small town between Gardnersville and Robertsfied Airport is named after Sister Kathleen McGuire. The Catholic parish in Barnersville has been dedicated to the Sisters and named Holy Martyrs Church. Five Liberian Marist brothers teach at the Sister Shirley Kolmer School in Barnersville. Former Liberian aspirants who received their early training from Sister Joel and now reside in the United States and elsewhere are living memorials to her work in Liberia.

The work of others of the Liberian missionaries has also flourished. The 10 villages in Bomi County that Sister Antoinette Cusimano and Father Garry Jenkins SMA evangelized during the 1980's have grown to over 100 villages through the good work of the Liberian catechists, many of whom received their initial training from Sister Antoinette. The Liberian ASC Associates program developed by Sisters Rachel Lawler and Raphael Ann Drone still flourishes under the guidance of Josephine Wernah, a young Liberian woman who is a former professed Adorer. Many of the ASC works in health care and education have been continued by the Liberian people.

The bond between the Adorers of the Blood of Christ and the Liberian people goes much deeper than monetary support, advocacy for justice, and even deeper than the continuation of the Sisters' work. The blood of five U.S. Adorers has mingled with that of the thousands of Liberians killed during the civil war, and the Adorers have shared with the Liberian people the grief of losing loved ones through violence. This sharing has irrevocably bound the Adorers of the Blood of Christ and the people of Liberia in a way that no one could possibly have imagined when the first Adorers were welcomed by the Liberian people over thirty years ago.

The story of these women, the Martyrs of Charity, tells us one thing. It takes courage, confidence and commitment to follow one's personal journey to God. The Adorers LifeChoices program is an uncommon vocational discernment program that assists women and men in a thoughtful exploration of how God might be asking one to use their personal gifts. If you'd like more information contact ASCVocations

For more information about the Martyrs of Charity and the mission of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Liberia, visit the Adorers of the Blood of Christ

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 6:55 PM link
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The Casualties of War

This was recieved today from Bread For The World



As the United States heads toward war with Iraq, congressional action on key issues has ground to a halt. Even before the first bomb is dropped, the headlong rush toward war is making hungry and poor people its first victims. The possibility of war, combined with eagerness in Congress to go home and campaign for re-election, has left a platter of unfinished legislation.

Key measures to help those struggling with hunger and poverty–-in the U.S. and overseas-–are being pushed aside:

* The renewal of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is at an impasse. The WORK Act passed with bipartisan support by the Senate Finance Committee would open doors for more education and job training and bolster support for child care and transportation. Passing it would be the single best thing Congress can do for hungry and poor people in the U.S. this year.

* The foreign operations spending bill, passed by both the House and Senate appropriations committees, is stalled. Both the House and Senate versions add $500 million in poverty-focused development assistance to last year’s allocation. Now there is talk that these increases may be stripped from the
final bill.


Bread for the World urges all citizens to do the following:

* PRAY. As people of faith we are called to pray on behalf of those who do not have enough. Congress and the president need to take action on measures to help hungry and poor people. Bread for the World members around the country will join in saying a simple prayer at 12 noon, Monday through Friday, from now until Congress passes improved TANF legislation and increased poverty-focused development assistance, or until it adjourns for the year. Because our members live in different time zones, by praying at noon we will offer up our petitions for several hours of each day.

* CONTACT YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVE. Call the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121, and ask for your members’ offices. Let them know you are praying for them and urge them to pass these specific bills. Let them know that whatever else Congress must do, hungry and poor people must not be left behind.


Gracious and Loving God, how thankful I am to have enough food. Please be with the 33 million people in the U.S. who live in poverty and the nearly 800 million people worldwide who are hungry today.

I pray especially for the leaders of this nation, that they will hear your call to defend the rights of poor people. Please give them the wisdom and guidance they need to improve TANF and increase assistance for poor countries this year. Help them, O God, to do everything in their power to give hardworking families the chance to move from poverty to promise.

(Please feel free to add your own prayers…)

ALSO: Read Bread for the World’s “Statement on War Against Iraq” at
(click here)

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 6:36 PM link
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Greetings from Vancouver

It is a day full of meetings preparing for the opening of the Retrouvaille International Council on Friday. Couples and priests are here from all over the world. This is the 25th anniversary of Retrouvaille. I may get to do some blogging tonight. Go Giants!

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:54 AM link
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