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Monza – “We remember Aung San Suu Kyi in our prayers so that with the blessing of God she will have good health and the wishes of her heart come true”, says Sister Beatrice, a Burmese nun living in Italy, originally from Myitkyina, capital of the State of Kachin. If there was still any doubt as to how the Burmese religious community in Italy is experiencing what is happening in Myanmar since the coup of 1 February 1, on Saturday, June 19, which corresponds to Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday, completely dispelled it. The site is the International Theological Seminary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions of Monza, an ancient structure wedged in the largest enclosed park in Europe and run by Fr. Gianni Criveller.
The appointment is the celebration that follows the ordination of two new Burmese priests, Gregorio Ba Oo and Columban San Li, PIME missionaries who celebrate their first mass in Burmese.
Nuns, priests, seminarians and lay people fill part of the large park and listen to the songs of the Burmese sisters of the Sisters of Reparation, mainly from the Abbiategrasso headquarters. It is up to Mother Beatrice to introduce the function on “a day of joy, grace and gratitude because the Lord has blessed us in a special way by giving us two priests to make us live in his full presence”. Sister Beatrice has lived in Italy for more than 15 years, but her affection for her country has never died out: “We cannot but remember our beloved homeland which is suffering – she says – for the pain of the loss of her children, for the children who have lost their loved ones, for children who are fleeing, for the children on the battlefield who are working hard to overcome the wickedness of the men who govern it with cruelty and violence” . Wishes that belong to all Burmese: San Li, who is Kachin like Beatrice, and of Ba Oo who is Kayah, from the city of Paung Loung where his family lives and whom he will probably not be able to see again anytime soon: “I heard from them last Sunday and they are doing well. But our town has become a place full of people fleeing from neighboring villages”, refugees from a very bloody war especially in Kayah where the national army has not spared churches and villages that have been mercilessly bombed. The atmosphere in Monza is serene and the violence, although clearly present in the hearts of those present, is far away. Many nuns – mostly from Myanmar – wear the traditional clothes from their villages of origin.
Lin, a chef who works in Bergamo, arrives with two gigantic cakes: the first represents the two new priests and the other, Aung San Suu Kyi. Lin’s young daughter cuts the cake amid chants and applause. For a moment, Myanmar forgets the pain and, connected via the Internet in many places on the planet, celebrates the leader who led the young and fragile Burmese democracy for 5 years. The leader’s trial began a week with allegations lacking factual evidence and without the woman being able to meet her defense team more than twice. But in the world her defenders and supporters are not lacking and the Burmese Catholic religious in Italy pray for her and keep her in their hearts.