On October 23, 1994, Sisters Esther Paniagua Alonso and Caridad “Cari” Alvarez Martín were each shot in the head as they walked to Mass.
Sister Esther was a nurse who worked with sick and disabled children and had painstakingly learned fluent Arabic. In the discernment meeting with Msgr. Teissier about whether to stay or go, she said to her sisters, “At this moment, for me, the perfect model is Jesus: He suffered, he had to overcome difficulties and led to the failure of the cross from which springs the source of life…. Nobody can take our life because we have already given it … Nothing will happen to us since we are in the hands of God … and if something happens to us, we are still in His hands.”
At the same meeting, Sister Caridad, who worked with the elderly and poor and had a deep devotion to Our Lady, noted, “I am open to God’s and my superiors’ will for me. Mary remained open to the will of God. Probably that cost her. In the present moments, I want to remain in this attitude before God.”
Again, their murders happened while on their way to Mass. They had set out with two other sisters, but before leaving, their Mother Superior, worried about the violence, said to not walk together so that if something happened it would be only to two and not to all four.
Sisters Esther and Caridad had turned a corner ahead of their companions when shots rang out. People ran past their two companions with fear on their faces, which impelled the women forward to see what had happened. Several young people held them back, however, and told the Sisters their friends had been shot.
The doctor who received them screamed in agony, “When will the killing end?! We no longer know where to put the corpses!”
Esther died first, a little over an hour after being shot, while Cari, transported to a military hospital, at first seemed she might pull through, even though the bullet had lodged in her head. However Sister Cari, too, died the next morning.
The Algerian journalist Saïd Mekbel wrote, “They were two women on their way to God to ask forgiveness. They were undoubtedly offering their little prayers for us, unfortunate Algerians, oppressed by the scourge [of violence]. Perhaps we will be lacking for a long time the final prayers of these two religious who wished to tip the scales in favor of peace and mercy. Towards what world of darkness will we now plunge, we who only dream of light.”
Less than two months later, terrorists also assassinated him.
During the aforementioned discernment retreat, which had lasted two days, Algiers Archbishop Teissier encouraged them to move to a less working class and dangerous neighborhood.
Their response: “This is the district where we are known, this is the district where we must remain.”