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  • Discussion questions for The Cost of Compassion
  • One of three ACTA/In Extenso titles selected as finalists for the 2018 Foreword Reviews Indie Book Award
  • March 2019 selection for the US Catholic Book Club

Cost of Compassion

Five Women Who Paid the Ultimate Price
Barbara Pawlikowski
354 pages

Product Description

In 1992, five American missionary sisters, members of the Ruma, Illinois, Province of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, were murdered by soldiers during a civil war in Liberia, West Africa.

This is a story about women wmho promised to dedicate their life to serving others. The women portrayed here, Sisters Barbara Ann Muttra, Shirley Kolmer, Mary Joel Kolmer, Agnes Mueller, and Kathleen McGuire, displayed a unique courage, competence, and commitment in their missionary calling. But they were also funny, joyful, intelligent, stubborn—and, yes, afraid.

You will want to read about these relatively unknown American martyrs…

  • To be inspired by ordinary women—some call them “saints”—who were willing to face danger head on rather than run away from it as they were fervently urged and certainly able to do.
  • To experience the unique bond that developed among these “Sisters” and between them and the people they served.
  • To understand what happened in Liberia during the brutal fourteen-year civil War (1989-2003), one of Africa's bloodiest, during which more than 250,000 Liberians were killed and a million others were displaced into refugee camps.

US Catholic Book Club Selection for March 2019

In her new book, The Cost of Compassion, Barbara Ann Pawlikowski brings to life these ordinary women. Her book paints a picture of them not just as glorified martyrs to the faith, but as real-life women who cared deeply about their vocations and the people with whom they worked. These women were heroes not because they were willing to die, but because they were drawn by their faith to minister to those who needed it most, despite the danger and personal sacrifice required. This well-researched and powerful book is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about these little-known women. — Emily Sanna, associate editor, U.S. Catholic

Praise for The Cost of Compassion

The Cost of Compassion is a well-spring of healing for all who still carry within us the traumas and scars of war. This book is a great contribution to the healing and reconciliation of my beloved Liberia—an ideal still very distant. — Most Reverend Tony Borwah, Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Gbarnga, Liberia, and President, Catholic Bishops Conference of Liberia

By her excellent portrayal of intimate details of the lives of five selfless American women who came to be swept up in a horrible war in a tiny African country 25 years ago, Barbara Pawlikowski re-energizes the hope their murderers will be brought to the bar of justice. Gerald S. Rose, Former Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy in Liberia

Discussion questions are available for this title. See alternate images or email

Product Reviews

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  1. Compelling and Inspirational 4 Star Review

    Posted by on Apr 1st 2018

    The Cost of Compassion is a personal book for me. The community of The Adorers of the Blood of Christ has been a part of my life since before I can remember. My cousin was a member for 25 years. The community educated all the women in my family, including me. The story of the life and death of five Adorers in Liberia touches me deeply because two of the women were related to my husband. This book tells their stories and the stories of the other three women who answered the call to serve in Africa and ended up giving up their lives. It also tells the story of the community that nurtured them and remembers them as I do. The story of discernment of the call to service and the cost of that service is compelling and inspirational.

  2. Five dearest and best 5 Star Review

    Posted by on Feb 28th 2018

    Even though I'm a practising Anglican and not a Roman Catholic, I can't fail to be inspired by the examples of these five dear ones, who, in serving the people of Liberia, paid the highest price of following Christ. One of the truest stories of discipleship that I've ever read, amply told here by Ms Pawlikowski.

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