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Sr. Rachele Fassera ‘74 Advocates for Children in Africa

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The plight of young children in several African nations at the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has long been a topic of worldwide news. But how many of us knew that one of the primary advocates for the children was Comboni Missionary Sr. Rachele Fassera, a member of the SJC Class of 1974?

The LRA, led by a religious fanatic, Joseph Kony, is a guerilla army that preys upon young children who are seized from their homes and schools for the purpose of turning them into fighters, and often as sex slaves to LRA members. Last year, the U.S. Treasury Department placed Kony on its list of “specially designated global terrorists.”

On the evening of Oct. 9, 1996, Sr. Rachele experienced first-hand an LRA attack on St. Mary’s School in Aboke, northern Uganda. At the time, she was the school’s deputy headmistress and taught biology there. The LDA abducted 139 girls, ages 13-16. Sr. Rachele and a male teacher volunteered to go after them and try to buy the girls’ freedom. She was able to negotiate the release of only 109.

Sr. Rachele and parents of the abducted children formed the Concerned Parents Association (CPA) to raise awareness and work for the other 30 girls to be returned. Their international crusade included an appeal to Pope John Paul II and meetings with United Nations officials, then- U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton. members of the European Parliament, former South African President Nelson Mandela, presidents of various African nations, and numerous other diplomats.

Five of the 30 girls died in captivity; all but two eventually made their escape. The last of the abductees, Catherine Ajok, returned to Uganda in March 2009 with her 21-month-old baby, whom she said was fathered by Joseph Kony.

Next year, Caspian Pictures is expected to produce a movie on the Aboke Abductions, entitled “Girl Soldiers.” Set in Uganda, it is to star Uma Thurman as Sr. Rachele. However, Thurman will be called Sr. Caroline in the film, the name given to a nun in a book on the kidnappings, Stolen Angels by Kathy Cook.

The SJC Alumnae Association recently contacted Sr. Rachele in Rome where she is currently serving as the General Secretary of the Combioni Congregation. Sr. Rachele said that during her years in the United States, “I received so much for my spiritual and missionary formation and for sure, among this, the two wonderful years I spent in Emmitsburg.”

September 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm
Florence Nakimera says:

thanks to you, i love all my teachers and she was my biology teacher in Aboke. I have tried locating her but i have failed to get her contacts. I miss her. She was a wonderful lady. May God reward her abundantly, may Sr. Alba my former headmistress RIP & Sr. Julianna RIP. God’s blessings to everyone.

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