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Catholic nun speaks about Myanmar's forgotten crisis

A Catholic nun spoke about for Myanmar's forgotten crisis in Italy on November 10.
Mother Beatrice Maw is delivering her talk on November 10. (Photo Supplied).

A Catholic nun spoke about Myanmar's forgotten crisis in Italy on November 10.

Sister Beatrice Maw of the Congregation of Reparation Sisters delivered a talk on "Myanmar's forgotten crisis" at the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission (PIME) at the inauguration of the preparatory journey for the Mission Festival in October 2022.

Myanmar has a Military coup starting from February 1, 2021.

Sister Beatrice Maw stated that the multimedia channels no longer spoke about the crisis in Myanmar, except the newspaper Avvenire, the magazine Mondo e Missione and the AsiaNews website.

"The silence of the media world did not mean that everything was over or that everything was fine. On the contrary, from February 1 until now, the situation in Myanmar is getting worse day by day," said the nun of the congregation.

"I say this with a bleeding heart that the military dictatorship and the pandemic are not over at all," the nun expressed her anguish.  

Due to the regional wars, locals are fleeing to the forests, becoming refugees and internally displaced persons in the areas.

The nun presented that the civil war had always been oppressive from the last week of March until today. The number of displaced people is increasing. 

Villages, houses, and sacred places are damaged due to being burned, bombed, invaded, or pillaged. Artillery shell strikes reportedly damaged six catholic churches, two Baptist churches and two chapels.

Sister Beatrice shared with the audience first-hand reports from the land.

The nun spoke about a priest, director of a college for catechists. The priest shared that one among them was captured on absurd charges because he led the demonstration against the military coup. The young man was sober. But he was arrested on charges of being "drugged" and disrespecting the government.

The priest converted the empty spaces of training of catechists building into Covid-19 Center and a Clinic to help mothers during childbirth.

A mother in a village was arrested because her daughter, who works abroad, allegedly helped the insurgent people.

"The cry of a very young seminarian broke my heart,"  Sister Beatrice said.

After discovering the coup, the seminarian was embittered and angry. He confided to the nun that his future, hope, and dreams were destroyed instantly. Since that day, he and his friends have been using all their skills and strength to fight against this dictatorship and the pandemic. The seminarian appeals to other countries to help them to achieve their goal.

The nun stated that her religious sisters are present in 13 of the 16 Myanmar dioceses with 62 convents, are primarily located in undeveloped and difficult areas. Currently, about a dozen of her convents had been closed to escape the war. Unfortunately, there have also been many sisters infected with Covid-19 and some of them passed away.

The Provincial Superior confessed to Sister Beatrice Maw that she felt very sad when she saw that sisters, including the elderly ones, had to flee and witnessed the death of other Sisters from Covid-19.

Despite all these, the bold nun asserted that "we must accept and welcome these pains with a grateful heart because the Lord allows us to be "one" with the people through these sacrifices."

Sister Beatrice Maw felt proud because so many sisters were at the forefront to protect and support the people according to their abilities and in our convents where, even today, they welcome people in difficulty, even risking their health and life.

In her talk, Sister Beatrice Maw shared that Sister Teresa lost a brother who was shot on his way home from the refugee camp. He had gone to bring a mosquito net to the refugee site. When his children realized that their father was not returning, they started looking for him, finding him with his body in pieces and mangled.

"Our Sister, however, did not give up and now she is a volunteer in a Covid-19 Center where she takes care of the sick people," stated Sister Beatrice Maw.

Sister Beatrice Maw spoke about Sister Angela, who is working abroad, returning to Myanmar to visit her family, finding herself in this sad situation. She renewed herself "Here I am" as a new mission by helping fragile and troubled people.

Another Sister Judith, in helping the sick and discouraged people, felt like saying to herself: "Lord, take me, accept me if it is necessary to take my life as an offering of reparation."

She confided to Sister Beatrice Maw that at this point, the fear she had felt was gone.

The journalist Giorgio Bernardelli, the AsiaNews editorial coordinator, moderated the event attended by Senator Albertina Soliani, former President of the Parliamentary Association for Italy-Myanmar Friendship.

The event on Myanmar at PIME was sponsored by the Archdiocese of Milan, which has included it as the first stage of the preparatory journey for the Mission Festival.

The four-day event will converge Italian missionaries from the whole world in Milan.

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