India: four nuns die in car accident

 Four Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Friday when their car collided with a truck near Tiruchirappalli, a city in Tamil Nadu, 2,400 kilometres south of New Delhi. Three bishops and more than 1,000 people attended their funeral on Saturday at Immaculate Conception Church in Pondicherry, a former French enclave on the southeastern Indian coast where the congregation is based. The four nuns also were based in Pondicherry, or Puducherry, about 195 kilometers northeast of Tiruchirappalli. Sisters Alphonse Fathima, 54, Amali Shantha, 54, Chriysologa Mary, 65, and Fideline Mary, 67, were on their way to Tiruchirappalli in a taxi to attend the funeral of the father of a bank manager they knew. According to police reports, the driver dozed off while driving in the early morning and lost control of the car, which collided with a truck coming from the opposite direction. The nuns and the driver died on the spot. "We are deeply shocked," Sister Celine Mary, one of the provincial superiors of the congregation, told UCA News. She added that the congregation lost some senior leaders in the tragedy. Sister Shantha was the procurator general, and Sister Fathima was superior of the house that serves as the nuns' headquarters. "We have accepted this loss as the will of God during the Lenten season," Sister Celine added. Father Vincent Chinnadurai, chairperson of the state's Minority Commission, described the accident as "shocking" and "a tragedy." Founded in 1844 to combat illiteracy among women, the congregation has 1,044 members in 195 houses spread across Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal states. Besides 125 educational institutions, the nuns manage health-care, community-development and faith-propagation centres. They also work in Papua New Guinea and Syria, as well as in North and South America, Africa and Europe. Source: UCAN

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