11/30/2012, 00.00
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The sacrifice and apostolate of Sister Valsa, nun murdered by the coal mafia

A year after her death, the archbishop of New Delhi marks the martyrdom of the Catholic nun with a Mass and a meeting. A fellow member of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary spoke about Sister Valsa's "growing isolation" from "Church and congregation". The nun was advocate for the rights of Santal Tribals in the area of Dumka (Jharkand).

New Delhi (AsiaNews/CBCI) - The "ultimate sacrifice" of Sister Valsa, murdered by the coal mafia, has breathed "new meaning" into spirituality and the "apostolate," said Sister Shalini Mulackal as she talked about the Catholic nun killed a year ago for her steadfast defence of Santal Tribals in Dumka (Jharkand).

On the first anniversary of her death, Mgr Vincent Concessao, archbishop of New Delhi, celebrated a Memorial Mass on 24 November in the city's Sacred Heart Cathedral. Before the liturgy, the prelate moderated a meeting on the topic of "Being a Prophet in India Today - Our Master's Way" in memory of the slain Sister of Charity of Jesus and Mary.

Originally from Kerala, Sister Valsa John was shot in cold blood during the night of 15 November 2011. To this day, her murder remains unsolved. Initially, police thought Maoist rebels were involved. However, many people thought from the start that the local coal mafia had been behind the assassination.

For more than 20 years, the nun dedicated her life to Santal Tribals in the Dumka area, fighting for their rights against land grabs by the powerful coal lobby.

At the start of the meeting, a video was screened showing the mission Sister Valsa pursued until the day of her murder. Afterwards, Sister Mary Scaria talked about some of the moments in the life of her fellow nun, especially her relations to local communities and the repeated threats made by local organised crime groups. At the same time, the nun expressed her pain over the "growing isolation" in which Sister Valsa was left, "by the Church and her congregation".

The meeting was organised by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) Office for Women, the People's Initiative for Legal Literacy and Research (Pillar), Media House, the All India Catholic Union, the All India Christian Council and Sadbhavana.

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