Egypt – North Africa (2)

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By Fr John Caruana

Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)

The first appeal for the FMM sisters in Egypt was in 1924 by Fr Samuel Strobbe, a Franciscan from Belgium. The owners of a Franco-Belgian refinery in Armant, Egypt wanted the nuns to open a school for the families of the workers. Two years later, a dispensary and a convent were inaugurated. The nuns ran a kindergarten and taught catechism until 1959 when the kindergarten closed down.

In Kom-Ombo, the owners of a big sugar refinery also asked for the help of the nuns. In 1968, a novitiate opened in Luxor as the FMM were reaping vocations. In 1974 a community in Zakat was opened and the house in Armant was closed. The life of the whole district changed in a few weeks with the help of these devoted people. There are other houses in Cairo, Alexandria, Zamalek and others.

Sr Agnese Delicata (1966-1968) worked in Egypt as a nurse in an FMM dispensary in Kom-Ombo for two years. Since it was the only dispensary, the patients were numerous. She also loved and worked with the children. Before arriving in Egypt, Sr Agnese spent eight years working as a nurse in St Augustine Church clinic in Tunis.

Missionaries of Charity (MC)

Sr Bernardette Zammit Lupi was born in Sliema on the 7th September 1960. In the short forty years of her life, she grew to overcome herself to the extent of complete self-giving. To all who knew her, she was an example of faith and faithfulness. She died in Cairo, Egypt on the 2nd February 2001. As a Missionary of Charity Sister, her name was Sr Matthew MC. A decisive moment was her joining the Sixth form at St Aloysius College run by the Jesuits. There she developed a spirit of intolerance towards any shade of injustice, self-denial and unbounded dedication to others. She joined other volunteers visiting depressed areas in the South of Italy working with the Missionaries of Charity.

Sr Matthew left her home on the 5th of January 1984 and took her first vows on the 25th of May 1987 in the presence of Mother Theresa herself. Africa was her destination, working in Sudan for three years and then off to Egypt working mainly in a home for children. She would go herself in search of weak babies, or she would ask the nuns `Please give me more babies.’ She was really a mother to every child, she would sing, play with them and satisfy their needs as much as she could.

She died as a superior to the small MC Community of Mokattam, Cairo. On her last day she kept saying: ‘Sisters, love one another in the community, and only then will you love our poor.’

Sisters of Charity (SOC)

Sr M. Letitia Coreschi was called to serve in Egypt by the Reverend General Mother M. Carla Aletti in June 1980. Her first challenge was to learn French and Arabic. Sr Letitia left for Egypt in February 1981 together with Sister Nicolina, who soon became ill on arriving in Egypt and unfortunately had to return to Malta. Sr Letitia found great support from the other nuns, yet the beginning was difficult.

In September 1981, together with two other Lebanese nuns, she left for Upper Egypt where the Bishop of Sohag asked them to start a new mission in Khazandaria, a poor village. There she worked as a nurse till September 2002. From this mission, this time with two other Egyptian nuns, she left for Deserto, which lay between Upper Egypt and Cairo. Here they met many families who came to the industrial city called 10th of Ramadan, to earn their living.

Due to a slipped disc, in January 2007, Sr Letitia had to be taken to the Italian General Hospital in Cairo. Soon after, following the counsel of her superiors, she was compelled to return to Malta.

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