Our Dominican Family in Iraq: 13 Years after the War
March 19, 2003, the day the United States began its invasion of Iraq, put in motion a series of events that has meant only terror, chaos, and death for millions—Iraqis, and Syrians most of all—but also thousands of military and civilian personnel from the United States and many other nations.
Thirteen years later, we can easily see the far-reaching, dire consequences. Yet, in the midst of the terror, trauma, chaos and death, our Iraqi Dominican Family continues to serve the Gospel of Jesus in the shadow of violent extremists.
To honor their heroic ministry, our communications specialist Aaron Tebrinke created this moving timeline of milestones in the struggle for peace and security for our Dominican family in Iraq.
Please listen prayerfully, and consider supporting their work with your financial contribution. Here you can make a secure donation.
The Story of the music
The songs you hear, an Aramaic chant of the Our Father and the Hail Mary, and a children’s hymn to Mary, were recorded during a visit to Iraq the winter of 2003-2004. On December 26, 2003, Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Roberta Popara and I visited with Father Nageeb Mikhail, OP, at the friars’ historic church in the old city of Mosul, Kinesa al-Sa’a (The Church of the Clock). As we were passing through the church on the way from one part of the complex to another, Father Nageeb suddenly stopped in the nave and began singing in front of the altar. I pulled out my recorder and asked him to do it again for posterity. Thirteen years later, the sound of Nageeb’s voice echoing in the stone church resonates across millennia, back to the carpenter’s son from Nazareth, who first gave those Aramaic words to his disciples.
The children’s singing also comes with a story. It was January 4, 2004, and we had just celebrated the ordination of Father Hani Daniel in a parish church in Karakosh, the largest Christian village on Nineveh Plain. Between the ordination and dinner, Roberta and I visited the family of one of the sisters. Her nieces and nephews, shy at first, eventually warmed up and were persuaded to sing. What became of those children, I wonder, and their families? They would be young adults now. What does their future hold?
A collection of work related to my trips to Iraq
Here are some writings regarding Iraq from over the years.
Poems: These were written in the dark church during an hour of contemplative prayer at the St. Catherine of Sienna Convent in Mosul. At one time it was the motherhouse for the sisters. A handful of sisters bravely stayed as long as they could. They left ahead of the ISIS take over of Mosul in 2014.
Silencing the Prophets: Written for a class on the prophets at Aquinas Institute, 2004. The assignment was to write about modern-day prophets in a strong prophetic voice.
Pilgrim’s Journey and Three Things: In 2010 I was invited to speak with the Dominican Friars who minister in the Arab world about my experience resettling Iraqi refugees in the Detroit Metro. Pilgrim’s Journey is a lengthy reflection on that trip. Three Things is a briefer summary.