Dominican Sister tells of experience with refugees

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.”

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Homily for Sunday, January 24, 2016

Readings for Today

Audio Readings for Today

How is it we avoid giving into despair when we see so much death and destruction around us. We fear terrorism, we see destruction in the Middle East, the tremendous death and martyrdom of Christians in the Middle East, those who go without basic necessities and other things we so often take for granted. Just as Nehemiah and Ezra reminded the people that despite the destruction and death of their day the Lord is still with them, so too, by acknowledging that Jesus is the Messiah we can avail ourselves of the same hope, mercy and grace of God Ezra proclaimed to the people.

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On the run from ISIS

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.

Homily for Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I simply cannot understand the deep anger and animosity directed at immigrants. It is not something that occurs just in the United States, either. There are countries all over the world who do not always have an attitude that is favorable to immigrants. For that matter, there are those who, when considering foreign aid or helping people who are desperately poor in other nations want to limit help only to our own country. Many candidates advocate that a giant wall be built along the border with Mexico, and some even would not rule out a giant wall along the border with Canada.

When I hear such things I become very sad. Because it seems to me, that underneath all of this desire to keep immigrants out is fear. We are afraid. And we seek to deal with this fear by enclosing ourselves into a world, a prison really, to keep out the strangers. It feels that we search in vain for a guaranteed safety, a selfish clinging to what fails to satisfy.

Thank God that the saints of old, and even saints today, do not have that attitude. Far from building walls to keep people out, they heard the call of Jesus, the stranger, whom they welcomed. Saint Peter Claver, whose feast we celebrate today, was one such saint. Seeking to evangelize the Africans, he could not imagine how eager they would be to hear the good news he came to bring.

Homily for Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It may not seem this way, but we live in an age of martyrs. People all over the world, but especially in the Middle East and in Africa are being killed simply because they are Christians. Speaking to the Shalom Community who sponsored a relay to raise awareness of the terrible persecution of Christians, the pope said this:

“Your itinerary on the streets is over, but what must continue on the part of all is the spiritual journey of prayer, intense prayer; the concrete participation and tangible help in the defense and protection of our brothers and sisters, who are persecuted, exiled, killed, beheaded, for the only reason of being a Christian.”

Homily for September 15, 2014

Readings for Today

Perhaps the worse type of suffering is that suffering that comes in watching someone else suffer, and knowing there is nothing that can be done about it.  Consider the absolute pain of the parents of James Foley, who was savagely beheaded by ISIS.  Or the profound suffering of parents who have a child with a terminal illness.  Or the often disregarded suffering of parents whose children commit some horrible crime, and are executed for it.

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Aug 24 Update from the Iraqi Dominican Sisters

This originally appeared on website of the Dominican Order.)

Dear all,

We continue to share our daily struggle with you, hoping that our cry will reach the world. We are like the blind man of Jericho (Mark 10: 46-52), who had nothing to express himself, but his voice, asking Jesus for mercy. Although some people ignored his voice, others listened, and helped him. We count on people, who will listen!

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Homily for Saturday, August 23, 2014

Readings for Today

“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?

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Aug 17 Update from Dominican Sisters in Iraq

This originally appeared on the website of the Dominican Order.

Dear all,

After eleven days, it feels like we are on the same day we left. Some people are still in the streets, others are still in the parks, and some take refuge in schools. People are desperate to find a place to stay; even construction sites, unfinished buildings, private event halls, and basements are inhabited. A lot of people are living in unfurnished apartments, and homes, with sinfully high prices. People in the houses are sleeping on the floor, because they cannot afford to buy furniture. Some were fortunate to find a place to stay with relatives, in houses overloaded with people. On top of everything, refugees are running out of money, as they cannot withdraw money from banks, neither can they find jobs to earn money.

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