11/16/2017, 11.11
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Sister Meena Barwa: Share the passion of Christ to be witnesses of the Gospel

by Nirmala Carvalho

The nun of the Servite religious order survived a rape during the anti-Christian pogroms of Kandhamal. "My suffering will not be in vain." An ex-convict starts a new life after the nun visited his prison. Sister Rani Maria, India's first woman martyr, "is already a saint."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "Continue to share Christ's passion and experience resurrection: this means witnessing to the Gospel in Asia," says Servite Sister Senna Meena Barwa, who is also a survivor of violence and rape during the anti-Christian pogroms of Kandhamal (Orissa) in 2008. The religious was commenting on Pope Francis's November prayer intention [to pray for Christians in Asia, ed]. "Today my life is full of challenges," she says, "everything I do, has the dimension of being a witness.”

Sister Meena was born in the Sambalpur district and worked at the Divyajyoti Pastoral Center at K Nuagaon, in the Kandhamal district. Her rape took place on August 25, 2008, when, together with a priest, Fr. Thomas Chellan she was taken, beaten, stripped, and forced to march around the village. The fundamentalists even wanted to burn her alive together with the priest. Only late in the evening, as they continued to be hurt and wound them, were they released by the police.

Regarding the violence she has suffered, he states: " God allowed me to see death and saved me; allowed me to live. There are many who are saved from death and are given the opportunity to witness Christ by living. I feel a certain nostalgia, that God allowed me, my parents, my Congregation and Church to suffer for faith sake. This is also a way, that my family and congregation continues to Witness the Gospel in Asia. And I know this pain will not go waste. I remember Christ Words in Mt 5: 10-11 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me "(Mt 5, 10-11).

Sister Meena recounts an episode that touched her deeply: "I was recently in a shopping mall when I was locked up by a stranger who called me 'Didi, didi' (sister, sister). He held my hand and bowed in front of me. I was taken aback,  as I did not recognize the person. Instead, he explained to me that I had knotted the Rakhi around his wrist [a sacred bracelet that the sisters tied to the brothers' wrist to strengthen their bond, a Hindu custom that has become common to celebrate friendship between man and woman even though the two are not biologically bound] - while he was in jail and that was the happiest moment of his life. After a month he left jail and now he has started a new life. Meeting with the stranger filled me with joy and peace. "

The sister was present at the beatification of Sister Rani Maria [on November 4, 2017. The Franciscan Poor Clare, assassinated in 1995 with 54 knifes, is the first woman martyr of India - ndr]. "The ceremony - she says - was a really powerful moment. Sister Rani testified the Gospel in Asia. An immense crowd participated in this beatification with devotion and reverence. It was experience of Heaven for me, in which angels, saints and people participated together without confusion. " Then she concludes: "For me, Sister Rani Maria is already a Saint. She witnessed the Gospel dying of martyrdom. She is an example. Being present at that sacred event has increased my love for God and my faith."

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