What motivated the Dominicans in the 18th century to establish a community at the heart of the Nineveh Plains? An exposition at the Dominican friary of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome, which runs until June 17, offers a collection of Iraqi manuscripts never shown to the public before—dating from between the 13th and 19th centuries—as well as exceptional photographs from the old photo archive of the Dominican friary in Mosul (Iraq).
WASHINGTON—Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, has urged the Senate to pass the “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act” (H.R. 390). The proposed legislation calls for much needed assistance for survivors of genocide, especially in Iraq and Syria, and would allow faith-based organizations (such as Catholic Relief Services) that are already providing humanitarian assistance to these populations, to access U.S. government funding in their work, increasing aid to those desperately in need.
In a letter to U.S. Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Benjamin Cardin, Ranking Member, Bishop Cantú wrote, “I commend you for your efforts to support those suffering persecution in Iraq and Syria and trust that swift Senate consideration and passage of H.R. 390 will contribute to a longer-term solution to the crisis in the region.”
It’s been nearly three years since ISIS captured the Iraqi city of Mosul, causing many of the residents, including — eventually — the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, to flee. In those three years, the sisters have reimagined many of their ministries to make them work for life in a refugee camp.
Support from the global network for Dominican sisters has helped bring these ministries to fruition. Sr. Lorelle Elcock, prioress of the New York-based Dominican Sisters of Hope, shares what her parish has done to help the Iraqi sisters.
Dominican-Iraqi sister Habiba Bihnam Toma spoke about the time she spent helping refugees after bombings in northern Iraq in 2014.
Toma said she and her fellow sisters did not want to leave Qaraqosh, Iraq until everyone in the village had fled, but upon hearing news that ISIS was on its way, they were forced to retreat.
“A friend called me and tearfully pleaded that the sisters leave quickly,” Toma, who began learning English in the fall, said. “ISIS had already entered…and we were in grave danger.”
Below is a list of all statements made by US Bishops or state bishops conferences as located on diocesan websites.
Alaska Bishops (+Paul D. Etienne, Archdiocese of Anchorage; +Chad W. Zielinski, Diocese of Fairbanks, +Edward J. Burns, Diocese of Juneau; +Roger L. Schwietz, OMI, Archbishop Emeritus Archdiocese of Anchorage)
Arizona Catholic Bishops (Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares, Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix; Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix; Most Rev. James S. Wall, Bishop of Gallup; Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson)
District of Columbia
ERBIL, Iraq—The murderous advance of the Islamic State has forced more than 1.7 million people in Iraq from their homes. The displaced come from various religious, ethnic and economic backgrounds — suggesting that this is still a diverse country, despite years of war and bloodshed.
Here are some of the stories from those who recently had to flee their homes.
A Dominican Sister
“We had only one choice: face death or leave,” says Sister Luma, a nun of the Dominican order who left her hometown of Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian town, in August — one of roughly 50,000 Christians who fled ISIS’s advance on the ancient town.
Shortly before midnight, she and 35 other nuns packed into a few cars and drove to a convent in Ainkawa, a town in the Kurdish region of Iraq, bringing with them a 10-year-old girl from the church’s orphanage.
This isn’t the first time Luma has been displaced. In June, she fled ISIS’s advance on nearby Mosul.
A graduate from the University of Notre Dame, where she received her Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, and from Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union –- where she discovered her love for brownies and the Field Museum of Natural History –- Luma left behind her beloved library along with the church’s treasured archives, some dating back to the 11th century.
Luma has sought solace in the Book of Micah. “People will use hammers to turn their swords into ploughs,” she reads from her copy of the Bible. “They will turn their spears into tools to cut plants…Everyone will sit under his own vine and his own fig tree, and nobody will make them afraid any longer.”
– See more at: http://www.op.org/en/content/run-isis-stories-iraq#sthash.GWAfX3Rw.dpuf
With gratitude, we write to let you know of the welcome of our family in Iraq to our proposal for a delegation. Sister Maria Hanna quickly responded:
Thank you so very much for your thoughtful email. I told the sisters about your proposal, and they were happy to know that they were dearly loved.
I am very grateful for this initiative. Your presence among us in such condition will be a sign of hope and solidarity. We know that we are not alone, facing our destiny on our own.
As noted in the proposal, there will be two small delegations from the Dominican Family that will visit Iraq/Kurdistan in the first part of the New Year (five Dominicans in all). Though traveling separately, they will spend some time together with our Dominican Family in Erbil, Kurdistan (where most of the Dominican sisters and a large part of the Catholic community have gone during these recent months of heightened violence). Both delegations will send written reports to the Dominican family in the United States and throughout the world once they have returned.
We are asking that you prayerfully accompany the two delegations during the first few weeks of January. May Christ our Light be a guiding presence and a beacon of peace for both the pilgrims and our sisters and brothers in the region. The Dominican friars who will travel prefer not to be mentioned by name publicly until after the trip has finished. The delegation of sisters includes Dusty Farnan, Arlene Flaherty, and Marcelline Koch.
Both the sisters and the friars who are going on this delegation are writing letters to request prayers and financial support. The donations will be shared among the Dominican Family in Iraq. All checks (for those who are responding to this particular appeal letter) should be made out to Dominican Leadership Conference and sent to:
We also invite you to send Christmas cards. The delegates will hand-deliver these Christmas cards filled with your greetings of love, solidarity and peace. You can send them to any one of those going:
Dusty Farnan, OP, 1257 E. Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, MI 49221
Arlene Flaherty, OP, 496 Western Highway, Blauvelt, NY 10913
Marcelline Koch, OP, 1237 W. Monroe, Springfield, IL 62704
Thank you for your solidarity and for your prayers for our family in Iraq.
Sister Marcelline Koch, OP for the Iraq Coordinating Committee:
Jim Barnett, OP, Chuck Dahm, OP, Dusty Farnan, OP, Pat Farrell, OP, Arlene Flaherty, OP, Eileen Gannon, OP, Margaret Mayce, OP, Rick McDowell, Beth Murphy, OP, Roberta Propara, OP, Lucianne Siers, OP, Mary Trotochaud, and Richard Woods, OP
(06 December 2014)
– See more at: http://www.op.org/en/content/we-have-family-iraq-delegation-organized#sthash.ygOpnShY.dpuf
Special Collections in Parishes
The bishops of the United States will express their solidarity with Christians and other minorities in the Middle East in the face of ongoing violence and persecution by taking up a special collection. Proceeds from the collection will support immediate humanitarian and pastoral needs, as well as the cost of long-term church reconstruction.
The collection will be taken in parishes across the United States on either the weekend of September 6-7 or the following weekend of September 13-14.
Archbishop Kurtz wrote to President Obama expressing his concern for the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
Known as the “cradle of civilization,” Iraq has a rich history of agriculture, writing and recordkeeping, as well as cultural development. For much of its history, however, Iraq has also been embroiled in war. Sectarian violence stemming from the U.S. invasion in 2003 has resulted in widespread destruction, displacement, trauma and poverty. More than 2 million Iraqis have left the country in fear, seeking refuge in surrounding states. Within Iraq, another 2 million people are displaced. Every month, the number rises as an estimated 60,000 Iraqis flee their homes.
From the Iraqi Dominican Sisters: ” It is certain, many have reached their breaking point and despair is setting in.”
August 30th 2014
Weakened and Impoverished
We entered the fourth week of displacement. Yet, there is nothing promising at all. The Iraqi government has not done anything to regain the Christian towns back from the IS. Likewise, the Kurdish government, apart from allowing us to enter their province, has not offered any aid, financial or material, leaving us in the streets, and making the church take full responsibility of us all.
Thanks to the Church of Iraq in Kurdistan, who opened their halls and centres to provide shelters. Yet, the number of refugees was so large that the Kurdish government had to face the stark reality and open their schools to provide additional shelter for refugees.
We hear a lot about world governments and organizations sending financial aid to Iraq, but the refugee gets the least –we do not know or understand why. People lost almost everything; they cannot even afford to buy milk or formula for their children. What saddens us most is that, only one month ago, these people were the most educated in the country and among those most likely to build a life for themselves and their family, and now they do not have enough money in their pockets to survive the day. Christians became accustomed to investing their money in businesses, shops, fields, buildings…etc, to build their communities.
“The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.” This was the response to your psalm today. I am not sure why it struck me so today, but as I heard it I began to wonder if I really believed what I was saying. I must confess there are times when it seems hard to believe this sentence. Does God dwell in our land? Do we really see his glory?
Whether one thinks of “land” as the United States or the world, there are so many things that seem contrary to God’s glory that are quite visible and quite obviously contrary to human reason, let alone God’s divine glory. In the world, our attention has been focused, to varying degrees on at least four areas. The evil terrorist group ISIS, perpetrating evil actions in Iraq and Syria, the situation in Nigeria, with the kidnapping of children, and the military actions in Ukraine. We could certainly add Afghanistan and the Sudans to the list, among others. There really is a lot of violence around us.
And in our own country, the protests and the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, have been a constant story line. And in my view, this did not arise only because of the death of Michael Brown, but because of situations like it all over the country where too many minority communities have been treated poorly by the police. It has given many (and I am not talking about the criminals who loot and commit other crimes) an opportunity to be heard.
So I have no difficulty understanding those who question whether God is present, or if God even exists. At the same time, those circumstances I have mentioned are all human actions. It is we who have sinned. It is we who commit violence. It is we who do not treat one another with respect and dignity. We are the ones who treat each other so poorly. It is human sin that has brought these things about.