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Guns and Nuns

Sisters share personal encounters of violent shootings in visit for Catholic Mission

Sister Anne Quinn SMSM before a poster featuring Sister Teresia SMSM and a Jamaican  Family.

Sister Anne Quinn SMSM before a poster featuring Sister Teresia SMSM and a Jamaican Family.

Two Marist missionary sisters on a six-week tour of Jamaica are deeply moving Australians with stories of guns, drugs and violent crimes.

Speaking in Catholic dioceses across Australia as guests of Catholic Mission, Fijian Sister Teresia Tinanisolo and Australian Sister Anne Quinn have already brought some to tears, revealing the plight of the many young families to whom they offer spiritual and practical support.

The visit comes as a part of Catholic Mission’s 2014 World Mission Month campaign, ‘When I grow up I want to be… Alive’, which throughout October will focus on Jamaica—a nation deeply troubled by violence and crime.

With the second highest rate of shooting deaths in the world, Jamaica’s crime has spiralled out of control in recent years. Catholic Mission supports a number of programs aimed at creating brighter futures for the local youth, and the two Marist sisters are here to tell of what is sometimes an overwhelming task.

“It is not unusual early in the morning to hear gunshots,” says Sr Teresia, who lives and works in the perilous beach-side suburb of Mount Salem. “Children don’t have any role models. All they see is the violence that goes on. We’re equipping them and empowering them… to feel their self worth, that they can do something.”

Born in Fiji, Sr Teresia has worked in Jamaica for nearly twenty years and is currently an administrator at the Holy Family Self Help Centre, which is supported by Catholic Mission. The Centre teaches young people the vocational skills that are crucial to gaining employment in Jamaica’s growing tourism industry. Sr Anne is chairperson at St Anne’s Primary School in the capital, Kingston.

Catholic Mission National Director Martin Teulan says the sisters are inspirational: “It is difficult not to be incredibly moved by these two extraordinary women and their experiences of living and working in one of the most volatile countries in the world,” he says. “The reality of Jamaica that they present is far different to our perception of a carefree, tropical paradise frequented by cruise ships.”

Source: Catholic Mission Media

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