The Missionaries of Charity, the international religious community founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1950, were expelled from Nicaragua on July 6. The decision of Daniel Ortega’s regime to dissolve the Missionaries of Charity Association, along with other non-profit organizations, was approved hastily by Sandinista deputies in the National Assembly.
According to El Confidencial, 18 missionaries were expelled. Among them were women from various countries including India (7), Mexico (2), Spain (1), Guatemala (2), Ecuador (1), Vietnam (1), Philippines (2) and two Nicaraguans.
With this measure, the sisters – placed under surveillance, even “besieged” in their final days in Nicaragua – lived a real “exodus” because they wanted to continue working for the poorest in their shelters, including the Immaculate Heart of Mary Home in Granada.
In various photos, the sisters can be seen with their belongings in hand. According to El Confidencial, the Missionaries of Charity “were transferred from Managua and Granada to the border with Costa Rica by the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners (DGME) and the Police.”
A warm welcome in Costa Rica
Mother Teresa, foundress of the Missionaries of Charity, visited Nicaragua in 1986 and even prayed for peace in the Central American country when Ortega was president for the first time. Today, her sisters fleeing Nicaragua were welcomed in Costa Rica by Bishop Manuel Eugenio Salazar, bishop of the Diocese of Tilarán, Liberia.
Bishop Salazar himself said on his social networks that he had received a call from a priest telling him that the sisters were going to leave Nicaragua. Once they were expelled, Salazar asked some priests of his diocese to receive them on his behalf.
After a humble reception at the border with a lunch, Bishop Salazar was able to meet with them – after an initial greeting – in a local parish. “We comforted them, we dried some of their tears,” the bishop said.
“They had a difficult time and feared for their physical safety. They were very worried until they reached Costa Rican ground,” the bishop said. He further explained, “If it had been up to them, they would have stayed in Nicaragua. They love Nicaragua, the Nicaraguan people, especially the poorest and neediest.”
Martyrdom, a part of Christian spirituality
Addressing the fact that they were thrown out of Nicaragua, Bishop Salazar said, “I don’t see any fault in them; they are women, spouses of Jesus Christ, who only desire to serve the poor.” Defending their way of life, the bishop explained, “They do many things that others do not do. That is the life of a Christian, the martyr dimension is part of Christian spirituality.”
“These religious, following the example of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, only desire one privilege: to love and serve the poor, the most in need,” said Salazar, who asked for prayers for Nicaragua. He also insisted that through dialogue a a solution to the ailing country’s problems could be reached, in addition to asking for freedom of expression.