Sr Stella, Worthy Woman

I saw this CNS piece on Benedictine sister Stella Matutina, victim of a nighttime raid by the Philippine military a few years ago:

Along with three companions, including one novice from her congregation, she had gone to (Taytayan) at the invitation of community leaders to lead a discussion about local environmental concerns. The four were sleeping in the municipal office when the soldiers, wearing ski masks and missing the nametags on their uniforms, burst into the building in the middle of the night.

The army picked up some backlash, but mewled its excuse that since she was not in a habit, they didn’t know she was a religious sister.

Sr Stella:

I don’t know any congregations where the sisters sleep in the habit and veil.

The local priest and the bishop claimed to be upset they didn’t know about the visit, but Sr Stella claimed that not only did she inform the priest about it, but …

 (W)e have a pontifical right as Benedictine missionaries to go where we want. We are not under the bishop. We are free. Environmental issues know no boundaries. He should be happy that a sister traveled that far on a bad road to reach that isolated place.

Indeed. Isn’t this what the previous pope spoke of in casting our nets into the deep? In a not-so-faint echo of the Worthy Women series:

In the wake of the incident, Sister Stella said the bishop pressured her to not press charges against the military officials involved. She said she reluctantly agreed, afraid the bishop might expel the congregation from his diocese.

Recently, though, she went through legal channels to achieve redress for the slander (if not danger) of being “red-tagged” as a member of the New People’s Army. (For US Republicans, that’s worse than being a socialist. Those dudes are c********s.)

Sr Stella gets the penultimate word:

If people are dying by the thousands, it’s high time to go out from our chapels and do something. But my community is afraid I will be killed. The other sisters are proud of what I’ve been doing, but they’re afraid for me. They want me to live life happily. But why worry about my life if people are afraid, and ordinary people are killed every day?

Last word is yours.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to Sr Stella, Worthy Woman

  1. FrMichael says:

    The danger regarding logging and other environmental problems in the Philippines is great. I have a priest-friend who has been exiled from his native island for nearly 20 years, having survived assassination attempts from the NPA and illegal logging interests regarding his activism.

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    “(W)e have a pontifical right as Benedictine missionaries to go where we want. We are not under the bishop. We are free.”

    Another uppity woman who just hasn’t learned her place in the ecclesiastical pecking order!

    From NCR’s “Cry Pax” of the late 1960s:

    “Ladies, Ladies, soon you’ll agree
    This altar girl crumb from the Holy See
    Gives truth to the adage that you’ll always be,
    Rarely the dog, but most often the tree.”

  3. I had never heard of her – thanks so much for this Todd. Perhaps you could add the Worthy Women tag/label? I keep pointing people to the aggregate, so that way this would be included. Just a thought.

  4. Denise Curry says:

    The similarities between Sr. Stella Matutina and Sr Dorothy
    Stang , an eco -martyr in Brazil in 2005 are striking. What can we do to keep Stella safe?

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