The West African country of Liberia is still recovering from an Ebola epidemic and two continuous civil wars – one of which claimed the lives of five missionary Adorers of the Blood of Christ in 1992.
Nonetheless, Sister Therese Wetta, an Adorer of the Blood of Christ, Wichita, will be returning to Liberia in about a week because of the country’s great need for assistance and because of a call by the Holy Spirit. Another Adorer, Sr. Zita Resch of Lichtenstein, will serve with her. Sister Therese is hopeful two other ASCs will join them in the next few months.
The bishop of Cape Palmas, Liberia, the Most Rev. Andrew J. Karnley, told Sister Therese that although the country’s most recent civil war has been over for 14 years, “the people are still in trauma.”
Sr. Therese said last week that the Lord has been tugging at her heart since 2001 to minister to the impoverished country and when Bishop Karnley, who was educated by ASC sisters, told her that everyone remembers the martyred sisters and that their return to the country would be a big step in the healing process for the people, “I knew that’s the real reason to be going back.”
Her desire to serve Liberia was sidetracked by a call to ASC general leadership, service in Tanzania, an East African country, and a request to help in Newman University’s fundraising effort for the Bishop Gerber Science Center. After the completion of the science center, Sr. Therese told leadership that she was still feeling the call to Liberia.
“Our God is a faithful God,” she said. “I think if God really wants something – God is persistent. You know God’s patient and God’s timing is everything. And here we are and leadership is very supportive.”
While in Liberia last May with two Newman U. students and four others, Sr. Therese traveled to Harper on the southwest tip of the country to explore the diocese and to visit Bishop Karnley, who is enthusiastic, she said, about the Adorers’ return.
The two ASC sisters will live in Grand Cess, on the coast, about 50 miles west of Harper.
Bishop Karnley went to Grand Cess and told the parish council that Adorers are returning, she said. “The response of the people was enthusiastic and happy, he said. I had no qualms about going to Grand Cess before but this just reinforces that we’re going to be very welcome.”
As for their ministry, that is to be determined.
There is a need for science teachers and for catechists, Sr. Therese said, and because about 60 percent of the women were raped during the civil wars, there is also a need to minister to those victims.
“I really thought we would have been there last year,” she said, “I’m still excited. It seems like it’s been a long time, but you know, things work out.”
Sr. Therese, a member of St. Mary’s Parish, Aleppo, as a child, said she was raised in a household without indoor water and toilet facilities until she was about 12 years old.
She’s about to relive that. The infrastructure of the country has suffered because of the wars and the Ebola crisis. Most roads are not paved. The sisters will depend on solar power and a generator, they’ll have no running water, but they will be able to use cell phones.
Sr. Therese will leave Wichita on Feb. 7 and fly out of Washington, D.C., to meet up with Sr. Zita on one of the legs of her trip to Monrovia, the capitol of Liberia, where they will shop for a vehicle and for supplies.
The three bishops of Liberia are meeting in Monrovia Feb. 8-10, so the sisters hope to meet with Bishop Karnley and perhaps the other bishops on Feb. 11 to do what they can to help Liberia continue to heal.