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File photo of Sr Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti File photo of Sr Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti 

Colombian nun remains in captivity in Mali, four years on

Four years have passed since Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti was kidnapped by Islamist militants in Mali, where the Colombian religious sister remains in captivity.

By Lisa Zengarini

February 7th marked the 4th anniversary of the kidnapping in Mali of Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti.

The Colombian nun of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate was abducted in 2017 from the village of Karangasso, near the town of Koutiala, in the southern Region of Sikasso, where she worked amongst the poorest.

Her fellow sisters remembered her abduction in a post on Facebook asking for prayers for her release.

“Dear Sister Gloria Cecilia, we are there for you pleading the Lord to give you strength and protection during your captivity. Your fellow sisters, who love you, are looking forward to seeing you again,” the post reads.  

Prayers for release from captivity

So far efforts to secure her release haven’t been successful. The kidnappers are linked to al-Qaeda who in January 2018 sent a video on the internet in which Sister Gloria, who appeared to be in good health conditions, appealed for Pope Francis’ intervention.

On 7 February last year, the Church in Mali united for a day of prayer for Sister Gloria’s release.

The same happened in 2018, when the Bishops’ Conference of Mali published a message on a number various media out-puts of Western Africa.

According to Sophie Petronin, a French humanitarian worker released with other Western hostages, including the Italian missionary Father Pierluigi Maccalli, the nun is alive but in poor health conditions. Her elderly mother, who never gave up hope for her safe return, died in September last year.

Courageous educator

Sister Gloria has long worked as a teacher. Before arriving in Mali, she worked in the field of education in Colombia, Mexico and Benin.

In Karangasso she helped her religious community who carries out missionary work in a health center, an orphanage and a centre for women's empowerment and also held catechism classes for the local children and young people.

09 February 2021, 09:47