Slovak nun, shot in South Sudan, dies in Nairobi hospital

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Holy Spirit Missionary Sr Veronika Terezia Rackova, director of St Bakhita Medical Centre in Yei, South Sudan, died on 20 May at a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. The Holy Spirit Missionary Sister, who was shot in the stomach in Yei, is pictured in an undated photo. Photo: CNS/courtesy Fr Liam Dunne
Holy Spirit Missionary Sr Veronika Terezia Rackova, who died after being shot in the stomach, is pictured in an undated photo. Photo: CNS/courtesy Fr Liam Dunne

A Slovak nun shot and wounded in Yei, South Sudan, died at a hospital in Nairobi on 20 May.

Holy Spirit Missionary Sr Veronika Terezia Rackova, director of St Bakhita Medical Center in Yei, was evacuated to Nairobi on 17 May, shortly after the night-time shooting. She had been in a coma before her death.

Outside the intensive care unit at the hospital, Sr Maria Jerly, regional superior for the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, told Catholic News Service that Sr Rackova was shot as people marked John Garang Day. She said Sr Rackova was driving an ambulance after taking an expectant mother to the hospital when the vehicle was shot by soldiers patrolling the area. Sr Rackova was shot in the stomach, Sr Jerly said.

She added that a motive for the shooting was not known.

Three soldiers were arrested in connection with the incident, and Sr Jerly added, “One of them is said to have admitted having shot at Sr Rackova.”

Six of the order’s nuns are serving in South Sudan, mainly in the Yei Diocese. Sr Jerly told CNS the congregation did not plan to leave the area.

“On the contrary, we would like to continue giving services to the needy people of this great country of South Sudan,” she said, adding, “Some of our sisters are right now tormented over the incident, but we plan to continue to carry our badly needed services by the needy people of this country.”

Sr Jerly said Sr Rackova would be buried in Kenya, and that the Divine Word Fathers, the sisters’ male counterparts in Kenya, would handle the arrangements.