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Ursuline Sister Detained in Ethiopia Freed, “well and in good general condition”: Superior

Map Showing Ethiopia's Tigray region. Credit: Public Domain

The member of the Institute of the Ursuline Sisters of the Immaculate Virgin Mary in Ethiopia who was arrested by the government police forces more than 40 days ago has been released and is “well and in good general condition.”

In a Tuesday, January 18 report by the information service of Propaganda Fide, Agenzia Fides the Superior General of the Institute says she spoke to Sr. Abrehet Teserma and expresses her joy following the release of the Nun. 

“I spoke to her directly and found her to be very calm and generally in good shape,” Sr. Raffaella Pedrini has been quoted as saying in the report.

“Having heard her directly, I can say with certainty that she is well and in good general condition.” Sr. Pedrini says, and adds, “It follows that the sister and the people who shared her captivity were treated well.”

Sr. 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 on 30 November 2021.

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In an earlier report, the Superior General of the Ursuline Sisters is said to have told Agenzia Fides that “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.”

“We are completely ignorant of the reason for her arrest and her stay in prison. We are worried and saddened,” Sr. Raffaella said in the January 15 report.

In the January 18 report, Superior General of the Institute that was founded in Gandino in Italy’s Catholic Diocese of Bergamo narrates, “Sister Abrehet (Teserma) was imprisoned first in a courtyard of a police building and then she was transferred to a large room where she lived with a hundred people, all of them women, arrested in the same period.”

“Our sister was the only Nun; the others were very young girls,” Sr. Pedrini adds, and continues in reference to Sr.  Teserma, “She still does not know the reasons why she was arrested, nor why they released her.”

After so much fear and concern, the Superior General of Ursuline Sisters says, “now is the time for happiness; there will be time to understand what happened and why our Sister was imprisoned.”

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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.

In the January 18 report, Sr. Pedrini is quoted as telling Agenzia Fides that “after moments of anguish and so much suffering we were finally able to thank the Lord for the liberation of our Sister and of the other Nuns.”

“In the conversations that I had with our community in Ethiopia, we always felt the hope and, at the same time, the conviction of being part of a people and of sharing their sufferings, of living in full solidarity with so many brothers and sisters,” she adds.

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Sr. Pedrini continues, “In the next few days I will try to hear from our delegate, Sister Abrehet Cahasai, to try to get more information. We cannot accept that everything happens without an explanation of the reasons.” 

According to what our Nuns tell us, the Superior General of the Ursuline Sisters says, “It will be difficult to obtain information, but we will insist because the affair cannot remain suspended; we demand answers.”