The Washington Post reports this morning on the sentencing of a man for a drunk driving accident that killed one Benedictine Nun and injured some others. The story reveals a moving perspective offered by the sisters who were so painfully touched by the incident and how they negotiate their feelings of justice and forgiveness, striving to live their lives as Christian women in the world.
On Friday, Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano, 24, was sentenced in Prince William County court to 20 years in prison for causing the crash that also killed Sister Denise Mosier, 66, and badly injured Sister Connie Ruth Lupton, 77.
The case sparked national outrage, becoming a touchstone in the debate about illegal immigration. Martinelly-Montano, originally from Bolivia, hadtwo drunken-driving convictions, and a deportation hearing had been scheduled before the crash. He was convicted of felony murder and other charges.
But for the nuns, the focus has always been on forgiveness rather than punishment. Martinelly-Montano should face consequences, they say. The sisters never liked the politicization of the case and the condemnation of the young man as a murderer for what they see as a terrible accident driven by a sickness with alcohol.
“The way we look at it, it was an accident,” said Lupton, who now lives at the Bristow monastery. “He didn’t plan to get up that morning and do that. He will never turn around if he doesn’t get out and face freedom.”
Or as Lange put it: “But for the grace of God, I could be an alcoholic, and it could have been me behind that wheel.”
The news story ends with these lines:
The Benedictine sisters seek forgiveness every day, Lupton said. There is imperfection and flaw all around them, and in them. So in the weeks and months after the crash, they let Martinelly-Montano’s family know that they did not feel resentment.
His mother, Maria, who lives nearby, has visited for dinner. Lange said she was pleased to get Christmas cards the past two years from Martinelly-Montano, both apologetic.
Ultimately, the sisters said that Mosier’s death is bearable because they know she is in a better place. Sister Cecilia Dwyer, the prioress, or leader, of the convent, said she believes that it was God’s will when eight women joined the convent in recent months. But she sees Mosier there, too.
“I feel like Denise is up there pulling strings,” she said.
To read the whole piece, go to: “Drunk driver gets 20 years for Va. crash that led to 2 nuns’ deaths.”