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“IN DEATH AS IN LIFE SHE REMAINED WITH THE POOR, WITH THE PRISONERS”

“A BEATITUDE WOMAN, JOAN SAWYER 30 YEARS ON”

HER STORY AND EXAMPLE CONTINUES TO INSPIRE US

“The Cross still stands there, bleak and bare near the main road to Lurigancho Prison in Lima. ‘No Mataras’, the inscription reads. You shall not kill. People come to stand or kneel there, to bring flowers, to pray. Thirty years after she was killed, Joan Sawyer, the Columban Sister from Belfast, who ministered to the prisoners in Lurigancho, is remembered.

The prison is also there, as drab, as unwelcoming, as overcrowded as when Joan walked the corridors. Lurigancho holds thousands of men, young and old, all hoping for a better life, for freedom. Men that Joan knew and loved, men who called forth the best in her, who knew that her gentleness would never fail, knew she would never give up on them.

SHOT DEAD

On that fatal Wednesday, the 14th December 1983, she was, with other pastoral workers, taken as a hostage by desperate men, hoping to escape from prison. After hours of negotiation the authorities allowed them to drive out in an ambulance but as they went the police opened fire and Joan with seven of the nine prisoner hostages, was shot dead. In death as in life she remained with the poor, with the prisoners, with her friends.

Thirty years later we remember the quiet, gentle woman and the prisoners who died with her. She was, as one of her teachers said, ”A beatitude person’. Her simple poverty, her gentleness, compassionate and peace-making ways, were the source of her strength and influence.’ Her story continues to inspire us, calls us to be compassionate, to work for justice especially for those in prison, for the poor, for those on the margins of our lives.

Joan lives on in the hearts of the poor in Lima, the people she loved, and in the hearts of all who knew her, especially the Columban family who never cease to thank God for the gift she was, and continues to be, to all of us. May she rest in peace.”
– This article was published in “Far East” (Magazine of the Columban Missionaries) issue December 2013. For subscriptions, donations and enquiries if you feel called to be a missionary please visit http://www.comlumbans.co.uk (external link) or http://www.columbansisters.org (external link).

 
 

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FOR YOUR DIARY: ALL THE DATES AND VENUES OF ST ANTHONY’S RELICS’ UK VISIT

ST ANTHONY’S RELICS VISIT UNITED KINGDOM – OCTOBER 24 TO NOVEMBER 3

÷ A MESSENGER OF HOPE FROM PADUA, ITALY ÷

• Thursday, October 24
BELFAST
St Peter’s Cathedral
St Peter’s Square, Belfast
Ph.: 028 9032 7573

• Saturday, October 26
GLASGOW
Blessed John Duns Scotus Church
270 Ballater St, Gorbals, Glasgow
Ph.: 141 429 0740

• Sunday, October 27
ABERDEEN
St Mary’s Cathedral
20 Huntly St, Aberdeen
Ph.: 1224 640 160

• Monday, October 28
NEWCASTLE
St Anthony of Padua Parish
Welbeck Road, Walker,
Newcastle upon Tyne
Ph.: 0191 262 3817

• Tuesday, October 29
MANCHESTER
All Saints Franciscan Friary Church
Redclyffe Road, Urmston,
Manchester
Ph.: 0161 749 7626

• Wednesday, October 30
LIVERPOOL
St Anthony’s Friary
1 Elmsley Road, Mossley Hill,
Liverpool
Ph.: 151 724 2109

• Thursday, October 31
CHESTER
St Francis’s Church
Grosvenor Street, Chester
Ph.: 0124 435 1331

• Friday, November 1
LONDON
St George’s Cathedral
Southwark, Lambeth Road, London
Ph.: 020 7928 5256

• Saturday, November 2
LONDON
Westminster Cathedral
Victoria Street, Cathedral Piazza, London
Ph.: 020 7798 9055

• Sunday, November 3
LONDON
St Peter’s Italian Church
136 Clerkenwell Rd, London
Ph.: 020 7837 1528

The Veneration Events are sponsored by: Messenger of Saint Anthony: http://www.saintanthonyofpadua.net (external link) and The Greyfriars of Britain and Ireland: http://www.thegreyfriars.org (external link)

 
 

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