Martyrs of Charity

Planting Seeds in Liberia

Liberians go to the polls today (Tuesday, Oct. 10) to elect a successor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who led the West African country out of the depths of a 14-year civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of Liberians. Five of the dead were our own U.S. Sisters, Barbara Ann Muttra, Mary Joel Kolmer, Shirley Kolmer, Agnes Mueller and Kathleen McGuire, who were killed 25 years ago this month. We sent some of our Adorer family to visit Liberia earlier this year. Here’s a remembrance of the experience from one of them.

By Donna Luetters,

Remembering a ‘Soul-Mate Aunt’

Shirley Kolmer 261
Sister Shirley Kolmer, ASC

Diane Shirley Kolmer so loved and admired her “soul-mate aunt,” Sister Shirley Kolmer, that she adopted the legal middle name, “Shirley,” when her aunt and four other missionary sisters were killed in Liberia in October 1992.

Now 62, the retired Des Moines, Iowa, lobbyist had grown up admiring and emulating Sister Shirley, whom she described as a “born leader,” a “force of nature” who was “ridiculously smart” and “so damn funny.”

“She was my soul-mate aunt,” she said. “She was who I wanted to be when I grew up.

VIDEO: In remembrance of the Martyrs of Charity

On this day in 1992, two Adorers were killed by rebel forces on the road between Gardnersville and Barnersville, Liberia. They were two of five sisters serving in Liberia during the country’s Civil War. Three days later, the final three sisters would be shot outside of their convent.

After the recent death of Sister Toni Cusimano, letters were found in her possession that were some of the last letters received by the missionary sisters, sent in March 1992.

This week, on the anniversary of their death, we hear the echo of their voices and consider the ways we have been altered by the loss of these women.