South Sudan violence claims life of Catholic nun

Holy Spirit Missionary Sr. Veronika Terezia Rackova, director of St. Bakhita Medical Center in Yei, South Sudan, died May 20 at a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. She is pictured, right, in an undated photo. (CNS photo / Courtesy Fr. Liam Dunne)

A Slovak nun shot and wounded in Yei, South Sudan, died May 20 at a hospital in Nairobi.

Holy Spirit Missionary Sr. Veronika Terezia Rackova, director of St. Bakhita Medical Center in Yei, was evacuated to Nairobi May 17, shortly after the nighttime shooting. She had been in a coma before her death.

Outside the intensive care unit at the hospital, Sr. Maria Jerly, regional superior for the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, told Catholic News Service that Rackova was shot as people marked John Garang Day. She said Rackova was driving an ambulance after taking an expectant mother to the hospital when the vehicle was shot by soldiers patrolling the area. Rackova was shot in the stomach, Jerly said.

She added that a motive for the shooting was not known.

Three soldiers were arrested in connection with the incident, and Jerly added, "One of them is said to have admitted having shot at Sister Rackova."

Six of the order's nuns are serving in South Sudan, mainly in the Yei Diocese. Jerly told CNS the congregation did not plan to leave the area.

"On the contrary, we would like to continue giving services to the needy people of this great country of South Sudan," she said, adding, "Some of our sisters are right now tormented over the incident, but we plan to continue to carry our badly needed services by the needy people of this country."

Jerly said Rackova would be buried in Kenya, and that the Divine Word Fathers, the sisters' male counterparts in Kenya, would handle the arrangements.

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

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