Every year the Community of Sant’Egidio organizes a prayer service in honor of modern martyrs. This year it was organized on April 22 with the presence of Pope Francis. Sr. Veronika Racková, SSpS was mentioned during this prayer service among other modern martyrs. On Monday, November 27, 2017 responding to the initiative of the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Congregation together with the members of the Community prepared prayer service in memory of Sr. Veronika. It took place in the Basilica of San’t Bartolomeo all’isola Tiberina (Basilica of St. Bartholomew at the Tiber Island, Rome).  We were pleased to participate in this vigil prayer by leading the prayers and singing.

Before the vigil prayer began Fr. Angelo Romano, the priest-in-charge of the basilica, gave a short historical information about the Basilica San’t Bartolomeo all’isola Tiberina.

The prayer service started at 20:15 with a procession song for martyrs and psalm 33 followed by a reading from Mathew 25:1-13. Fr. Angelo Romano on his brief reflection said, Sr. Veronika is like the wise virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom, Sr. Veronika had done her part, the Merciful God knocked on the door of her life and found Sr. Veronika ready to wake up and serve even at midnight. The lamp of the prudent virgin was on. This lamp was shining even during her struggle for life.  We are sure He helped her to enter eternal joy, following her Bridegroom.

Sr. Veronika was severely injured by gunshots on the night of 16 May 2016 while on her mission in South Sudan and died on 20 May 2016 in a hospital in Kenya.  Sister was a medical doctor. Shortly before being shot she had brought a pregnant woman with complications of childbirth from the clinic where she was admitted to a larger hospital with better facilities.  We thank Sr. Veronika for the testimony of her religious-missionary life. She has given her precious life while she saved the life of a mother and a child.

In a procession joined by Sr. Maria Theresia Hörnemann, Sr. Eleonora Cichon, Sr. Pavla Peštová, Fr. Angelo Romano, and the altar boys, Sr. Carmen Silvero (who worked with Sr. Veronika in South Sudan) brought the Bible and a stethoscope from the main altar to the memorial site for the new martyrs (which was visited last April 2017 by Pope Francis). These “relics” from Sr. Veronika were deposited in the side chapel dedicated to missionary martyrs of Africa.

Before the final blessing, Congregational Leader Sr. Maria Theresia, on behalf of the congregation, expressed gratitude to the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Slovak Ambassadors to Italy and the Holy See, Dr. Pavla Racková (sister of Sr. Veronika), our SVD brothers, and all the religious men and women for their presence and participation in this hour of prayer in commemoration of our dear Sister Veronika.

“It was a great joy for us that Sister Veronika found a place in this church, where she is venerated, in a special way, with other men and women who gave their lives for faith, justice, peace, and truth. And we wish that in this church will be commemorated not only Sister Veronica, but also all those who have lost their lives but whose names are not known, and who do not have anyone to commemorate them.” – Sr. Maria Theresia.

Sister Veronica loved life. She knows how to give witness to life. Life for her was a gift from God. She became a medical missionary to share with others this love for life. She knew that life and work in South Sudan was a major risk. She had, in the full sense of the word, given her life in the service of life.

We pray that the life and death of Sister Veronica be a strong call for our lives and for our apostolic work; and that as Christians of our time, we engage with joy and with all our energies in the life that God continually gives this world. Sr. Maria Theresia said, I’m sure that Sister Veronica helps us on this path with her powerful intercession to God.