Nuns in rural area have had three incidents this lent.
A convent of Benedictine nuns in rural Missouri are trying to raise $200,000 for a security fence around their property, as a number of shootings over the years have posed a risk to their lives.
This lent, there have been three shootings that have hit the abbey of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles — a serious uptick in firearm activity that stretches back for years.
Mother Cecilia, the abbess, said that the area is normally not a high crime area, so the unusual nature of the shootings is a source of concern that the nuns may be targeted.
Local police and the sheriff’s office are carrying on an investigation and helping provide security.
“As of now, there are no available updates on the investigation, but I do know that if there is no resolution in the next week or so, there will be a number to call for anyone who has information,” Mother Cecilia said in an email Friday to Aleteia. “A generous reward will be offered in exchange for tips leading to the apprehension of the perpetrator.”
The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, were founded by the traditional Latin rite Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. They have become well-known for their recordings of sacred music.
In 2010, before the sisters moved to the property, someone shot at a shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes on the site. In August 2019, some of the nuns were “shot at in our own backyard by someone who had entered the property, spent about 45 minutes here, shooting intermittently the whole time,” Mother Cecilia told the Catholic website The Pillar. “The two sisters actually heard the bullets fly past their heads.”
Then, on the evening of Ash Wednesday this year, Feb. 17, there were shots that seemed to come from the country road that runs along the north side of the sisters’ property.
A few days later, “another shot was fired, seeming (to come) from within our property, at the west wall of the church,” Mother Cecilia added.
On March 24, just after 11 p.m., “loud gunshots were heard by many Sisters in the Abbey,” said a letter to the abbey’s supporters. “Some of the Sisters arose, but soon returned to sleep, as we have sadly become desensitized on account of many incidents of inappropriate activity around our monastery.”
The shots, again, seemed to come from the country road that runs along the north side of the property.
“In the morning, Mother Abbess discovered two bullet holes in her bedroom,” said the letter. A bullet entered the exterior wall, “punched a hole beneath the Sacred Heart picture,” and pierced the opposite wall, stopped by the shower on the other side.
Mother Cecilia “was sleeping several feet from the bullet’s trajectory,” the statement noted.
The Pillar reported:
Aside from the bullet holes in Mother Cecilia’s monastery cell, the other damage sustained in the Lenten shootings include damage to some trim around a door, and a bullet hole in the stone of the sisters’ church.
No sisters have been injured in the shootings.
The abbey is in a rural area about seven miles outside of the small town of Gower, Missouri. The incidents are being investigated “diligently” by local sheriffs and law enforcement, who are also providing extra surveillance of the property, said Mother Cecilia.
“It is clearly targeted at us,” she told the Pillar. “Whether it is someone doing this ‘for fun’ or out of pure malice, we don’t know.”
The incidents are “extremely disturbing,” she added, since it seems the sisters are being targeted by at least one person, or even multiple people.
In their statement, the sisters said the shootings “are exceedingly good reminders to heed St. Benedict’s words to ‘keep death daily before ones eyes.’”
While the sisters fundraise for a 3,000 foot security fence, the sisters are also in the process of setting up security cameras around the property.
Added Mother Cecilia, the sisters also have “a couple of very protective dogs.”