The Church in Ethiopia is mourning the deaths of four religious sisters who died in a car accident that critically injured three other sisters.

The accident involved members of the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Anne. Eight sisters were driving to the city of Hawassa for a funeral of one sister's relative.

Near the east-central Ethiopian town of Meki, a truck overtook them on the road, causing the accident.

"The news of the traffic death of four sisters in Ethiopia, the Daughters of St. Anne, touches our hearts and souls very deeply," said Monsignor John E. Kozar, president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). "I know the Church of Ethiopia has lost some very devoted servants."

Three of the four dead have been identified as Sister Weinshet Gebru, the provincial superior and head of a formation house; Sister Motu Baba, former administrator of Guder Girls' Orphanage; and Sister Hanna Bekute, former director of Guder Catholic School.

The sisters are involved in pastoral and human formation. They run schools, health facilities, sewing schools, vocational training centers, orphanages, and a school for the visually impaired. They have partnered with CNEWA for several initiatives.

Regional CNEWA director Argaw Fantu hailed the sisters as "jewels of the Church."

Fantu requested prayers for the consolation of their religious community, praying that "God may bless them with the grace to keep on serving the people."

The Daughters of St. Anne have been in Ethiopia since 1968. The congregation celebrated its 150th anniversary last year.

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