Banners around St. Louis recognize nuns who sacrificed their lives


ST. LOUIS – Banners across the St. Louis area that read “5 murdered nuns” have a lot of people asking questions.

The banners recognize a tragic anniversary. The story one woman says every St. Louisan should know.

“I think the best way to draw attention is to put it in people’s faces,” A.B. Parker said. She’s behind the banners you may have seen, “It was pretty much the best most minimal work that I could do to grab people’s attention. ‘5 murdered nuns.’”

Parker put them up all over town so that people would remember the brave local women who put themselves in the middle of the Liberian Civil War. Five sisters who were serving a mission of bringing comfort to people in chaos and conflict. In October 1992, heavy combat surrounded the convent and peacekeeping forces failed to rescue them before they were executed by rebel forces.

Parker said, “These women were pretty much from here – Waterloo, Columbia, Bridgeway, and one from Iowa. I think everything that comes from this area is important. Everything from Anheuser-Busch to the Cardinals to area rap star who’s on Dancing with the Stars, to women who devoted their lives to other people.”

One of those women was sister Kathleen McGuire. We spoke via Zoom to her brother Fred in Virginia. He said, “I think it’s very admirable on her part. Very few people pick up something like this and run with it.”

Fred McGuire served in the Air Force when his sister chose the convent in Ruma, Illinois. He says his sister’s service cannot be compared to his. He explained, “The U.S. Government called me into service, so it was either go into the Air Force or go into the Army because the Vietnam War was going on. So my calling was from the government. Hers was from a higher authority ok, more spiritual than mine.”

Fred got some justice in 2018 when Thomas Woewiyu was convicted in U.S. Federal Court for his connection to war crimes in Liberia. He was set to be sentenced when he died this past April from complications of COVID-19. Fred told me, “It looked to me like there was justice involved, to be honest with you. I can’t say I was really upset hearing that news.”

A.B Parker added, “They’re still waiting for answers and hope that something’s going to come about. His sister and these other women didn’t just die for no reason.”

Parker believes remembering their service may help us find our own peace.

Despite the conviction of one man in connection with war crimes. No killers have yet been brought to justice.

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