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Covid-19 kills Indian Missionaries of Charity nun

Sister Sienna had been working with the poor in Wales where she contracted the disease

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Covid-19 kills Indian Missionaries of Charity nun

Sister Sienna, 73, a native of Jharkhand’s Gumla Diocese, died at Morriston Hospital in Swansea on April 1. (Photo supplied)

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A diocese in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand is mourning a Missionaries of Charity nun who died from Covid-19 in the United Kingdom.

Sister Sienna, 73, a native of Jharkhand’s Gumla Diocese, died at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, Wales, on April 1.

“We are extremely sad to learn that Sister Sienna is no more with us and has left for her heavenly father. In these difficult times all members of the diocese as well as her villagers are with the deceased’s family,” Father Cyprian Kullu, vicar general of Gumla Diocese, told UCA News.

“Of course, when the disease strikes, it does not see who that person is, whether that person is a priest, nun or belongs to any religion. It is sad that we lost a pious nun, but at the same time we are satisfied that she died while serving the poor and needy.

“Our great tribute to her at this stage is to follow the guidelines of the government to fight the pandemic, such as social distancing, washing hands regularly and maintaining hygiene.”

A press release from Missionaries of Charity's headquarters in Kolkata said “it is with deep sorrow that we inform you that Sister Sienna from the Swansea convent, Wales, has gone to her eternal rest on April 1.”

Sister Sienna was admitted to Morriston Hospital on March 27 but her condition deteriorated and she died after receiving the last rites.

The release appealed to people to pray for other sisters in the convent who are fighting Covid-19, some of whom are in serious condition.

Sister Sienna had been in the congregation founded by Mother Teresa for the last 50 years. She moved to Swansea in 2016 to work with the poor and destitute and was in charge of distributing food parcels to the poor, including those affected by the coronavirus.

She was born on Nov. 27, 1946, in Tanaloya village of Telesera Parish in Gumla Diocese as Xaveria Barla. Her parents, Cyril Barla and Catherina Soreng, were farmers.

“We received the message from our parish priest on April 3 about the demise of my aunt. We all are shocked and there are no words that can describe our feelings at this moment,” Rajesh Kumar Tete, a nephew of Sister Sienna, told UCA News.

“My aunt visited India in 2017 and that was the last time we saw her.  We had phone conversations in between but it is not possible for us to make international calls. She used to call us whenever she had the time. We will miss her.

“She was simple and down to earth and loved by all, especially by the catechism children in our village. I am sure she is in heaven and praying for us.”

About 1.5 million people in Jharkhand are Christians, at least half of them Catholics. Christians account for more than 20 percent of Gumla district’s one million people.

Gumla Diocese has produced many religious people working in far-flung areas of India as well as abroad.

Gumla Diocese was in the spotlight in 2016 when a Missionaries of Charity nun, Anselm Minj, was killed by Islamic State. She and three other nuns from the congregation were among 16 people shot when militants attacked a home for the elderly in Aden in strife-torn Yemen.

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