Quincy sisters offer forgiveness to accused robbers

byMark Labbe Pilot Staff

Mother Olga Yaqob and the Sisters of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth are pictured with Cardinal O'Malley in June. Pilot file photo/Gregory L. Tracy

QUINCY -- It's forgiveness, not anger, that Mother Olga Yaqob, superior of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth is offering to two women accused of robbing a member of her religious community at knifepoint Aug. 21.

"I offer them not only forgiveness, but also prayer and hope that this incident will be an invitation and call for them to really seek help," said Mother Olga.

According to Quincy police, a 27-year-old woman who is part of the religious community was out for a mid-day walk dressed in civilian clothing when she was approached by another woman.

That woman, now identified as Vanessa Young, 26, attempted to take a rosary case out of the victim's hand, resulting into a brief struggle.

Meanwhile, Crystal Young, also 26, stood several feet away to act as a lookout.

"Unfortunately, they'd mistaken her rosary bead case that she had in her hand with a wallet," said Mother Olga.

It was when the victim saw that Vanessa Young was holding a knife that she opened the satchel, revealing rosary beads, a key, and a small memento.

Vanessa Young then took the rosary beads, and the victim ran back to the convent unharmed, where she called the police.

Officers searched the area and picked up the two women a short time later.

Mother Olga said that she spoke with a Quincy police officer soon after the women were taken into custody to ask about their well-being.

"Obviously, they were in desperation to approach a young woman almost their age... it's a sign that they are so wounded and hurt, and whether they know it or not, it's a cry for help," she said.

Since the incident, Mother Olga said, people have asked her why she has chosen to forgive the women.

"It's because of my faith. Our faith teaches us forgiveness and compassion and to see people through the eyes of God," she said.

"All of us, our life is a make-up of circumstances and choices in life. Some of us have good circumstances, some have difficult circumstances in life, and some of us have good choices in life, some of us have different choices in life. So, I cannot help but to wonder what kind of circumstances and choices these young women have had in life, so that makes me really look at them with the same compassion and love that I look at my own daughters and sisters in the community," Mother Olga said.