Stories

Back to Liberia

By Cheryl Wittenauer

Five missionaries in their Liberia home

We go in twos to try to understand the impact of the five.

Two Adorers, two ASC Associates and two Newman University students are traveling to Liberia on a pilgrimage that marks the 25th anniversary of the death of our five missionary sisters in October 1992.

Two were ambushed on a road they traveled on Oct. 20 that year. Three others were shot to death three days later in front of their convent.

For long-suffering Liberians,

The Pilgrimage Begins

Fearday (1)By Sister Anita (Anitawa) Fearday, ASC

Twenty kilometers a day. 70 years old. Traveling the Way of St. James in Spain. Next week I begin my pilgrimage.

The Way of St. James was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages, together with those to Rome and Jerusalem.

Legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried in what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.

My Brother, the Cardinal

To the world, he’s Blase Cardinal Cupich, the ninth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, appointed two years ago by Pope Francis.

But to Kathy Schulte and her seven other siblings, he’s just Blase, the “ornery” brother who teased his five sisters, shared a room with three brothers and delivered newspapers after school.

Kathy, administrative assistant and IT contact at the Wichita Center, traveled to Rome last month with 62 other relatives and friends to mark her brother’s elevation to cardinal.

cupich“People ask us all the time, ‘how does it feel to have a cardinal in the family?’” she said.

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.

Our Missionary Sister Martyrs Remembered

martyrs-sculpture_ruma
Memorial of the Martyrs of Charity outside the Adorers’ Ruma Center in Ruma, Illinois

Today begins 12 days of remembering our missionary Sisters who died this month, 24 years ago in Liberia, during that African nation’s brutal civil war.

Adorers had been in Liberia since 1970 educating girls, working in health care and doing other ministries. They had come at the invitation of the SMA Fathers, Society of African Missions, based in Tenafly, N.J., who begged the Sisters to come. Many did.

But in the 1980s, as the war heated up,