Ursuline Sisters “worried, saddened” about Prolonged Detainment of Colleague in Ethiopia

Credit: Agenzia Fides

Members of the Institute of the Ursuline Sisters of the Immaculate Virgin Mary in Ethiopia are worried that they are being kept in the dark concerning the situation of their colleague who was arrested by the government police forces more than 40 days ago.

Sr. Abrehet Teserma, a teacher at a Kindergarten school situated in Shola in Addis Ababa was reportedly abducted alongside other Catholic Nuns of the Congregation of Sisters of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent and two Deacons 30 November 2021.

“One of the leaders of the Ethiopian community told me that Sr. Abrehet Teserma is still in prison. The biggest problem, besides the imprisonment itself, is that we have no news and today, 40 days after her arrest, we are in the dark about everything,” the Superior General of the Ursuline Sisters told the information service of Propaganda Fide, Agenzia Fides in a Saturday, January 15 report.

In the report, Sr. Raffaella Pedrini adds, “We are completely ignorant of the reason for her arrest and her stay in prison. We are worried and saddened.”

The Superior General of the Institute that was founded in Gandino in Italy’s Catholic Diocese of Bergamo says the Ursuline Sisters in Ethiopia who visit Sr. Teserma in her place of detainment are not allowed to have direct contact with her.


“Our Sisters go to bring her meals and basic necessities and are therefore in constant contact with her. But they are not allowed to meet her directly; they see her from afar, leave what she needs and go away,” Sr. Pedrini says, adding that despite being detained, Sr. Teserma appears calm.

Speaking on Sr. Teserma’s condition, the Superior General of the Ursuline Sisters says, “We can't say anything about her general condition because we haven't seen her up close since that day.”

The situation in Ethiopia remains tense 14 months after the start of a war that has spread beyond the Tigray region where it began on 4 November 2020.

Media reports indicate that tentative signs of calm date back to the pre-Christmas 2021 period, when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) declared a unilateral ceasefire and an unconditional withdrawal from the Amhara and Afar regions.

Media reports further indicate that TPLF announced its intention to return to Tigray and “open the doors to humanitarian aid”, thus raising hopes of initial relief for the tens of thousands of civilians forced by the conflict to starve or flee.

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In the January 15 report, Sr. Pedrini tells Agenzia Fides that members of her Institute are “very concerned about the fate of Sr. Teserma” but have no choice other than upholding “deep faith.”

“We are all very concerned about the fate of Abrehet Teserma as well as the general situation, but we live this moment as an occasion of deep faith," the Italian Nun says, and adds, "We see that other Nuns find themselves in a similar situation and that they all share the impossibility of understanding the reasons.”

“It would be very important to know the reasons that led to the arrest, and also to decide on a course of action," she further says.

Sr. Pedrini also spoke on the initiatives of the Institute she heads to push for the release of Sr. Teserma, including involvement of the Secretariat of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia.

“Personally, I telephone every day and speak with our responsible in Addis Ababa, Sister Abrehet Cahasai, in some cases several times a day. From the very beginning we contacted the Secretariat of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia and await news,” the Superior General of the Ursuline Sisters is quoted as telling Agenzia Fides.


Expressing her hope in the release of Sr. Teserma, Sr. Pedrini says, “We have chosen to follow the advice of our coordinator in Ethiopia, relying on the Secretariat, and we hope to see results soon.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.