Video: Christians in Iraq: Between Conflict and Hope
by Sister Luma Khudher, OP
at Sacred Heart Convent in Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois
on Friday, May 27, 2016
Yes, we have returned and want to share more about our last day in the Middle East which was spent in Amman Jordan. Arriving in Amman at 5:30 am and not leaving until 2:30 am the next morning, we had the blessed opportunity to visit with the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine serving at the clinic in Zarqa.
After a short rest and loving welcome of Sr. Mary Ann Kame, we drove to Zarqa (about 45 min. from Amann) to see the clinic sponsored by the Pontifical Mission that the sisters administer. The clinic is immaculate and truly a testament to their organizational and clinical skills. No visit would be complete without the hospitality of a meal and we enjoyed that with Sisters Najma, Sarah, Afrasia and of course Maryan.
Fr. Carlos, a priest of the Sons of Divine Providence, joined us and also was the driver, as we traveled to meet and talk with Iraqi refugees in Jordan. The first place housed four families of about 21 members living in an apartment that had four rooms, including a separate room for cooking and laundry. Their displacement was compounded by the grief of one of the grandmothers who had lost two young grandsons to violence before leaving Iraq. This housing is unique in that a parishioner donated the use of the house for the refugees. So often, prices are raised when refugees arrive. Any funds that refugees have can be quickly depleted.
Driving back to Amman, we stopped at another area housing Christians. A classmate of Sr. Mary Ann assembled the refugees to come and meet in a central house. Crowded into the main room, people shared their stories and they were many.
- A relatively young woman who has a congenital disease that requires her to now have a hip replacement that she cannot afford; she and her mother are the only living members of her family now.
- Another woman with MS and needing medicine, related that she had been cleared by the UN to move to another country. She sold everything and then found out that she was not on the list.
- A 27 year old mother of 3 girls is going blind and needs a surgery that she cannot afford.
- An elderly woman has been waiting four years to hear news of her abducted husband.
We shared that we wanted to do something for them but were not promising anything. “We know that. Just listen to our story.” After two hours we had to take leave of these very beautiful people.
Sr. Arlene invited all of us to stand and create a circle of prayer around the room. After we prayed the Hail Mary, a young boy appeared with a small censor and blessed each of us with incense. The beautiful scent wafted over each of us as we cupped our hands and received the incense to cover our faces and bodies.
We left the people embracing as many as possible upon our departure. Our hearts were full of the stories, grief, and sorrow of a people who are so deeply connected to their homeland. Community is life for them and all they want is to return to their home of origin which has been the seed of faith for centuries. We return now to the U.S. to try and see if there is anything we can do for our family in Iraq. Yes, we have family in Iraq.
Sr. Marcelline Koch, OP talks about the Dominican Sisters Conference Delegation going to Iraq arriving on the Fest of the Epiphany – January 6, 2015. (Recorded during Advent December 2014)
Today Sister Marcelline Koch, OP is in Iraq with a delegation including two other Dominican Sisters to visit the Dominican Sisters in Iraq, Iraqi Christians and Iraqi citizens whose homes were overrun by terrorists causing them to be internally displaced.
Below is her contribution to an article written for Global Sisters report. Click here to read the whole article.
We have family in Iraq: A journey in solidarity and love
Marcelline Koch, OP, Dominican of Springfield, Illinois
The connection to our Dominican sisters and brothers in Iraq was ignited in us during the 1990’s by our brother, Timothy Radcliffe. Since then we have honored the claim that We Have Family in Iraq. As family we have grown in relationship – U.S. and Iraqi Dominicans.
For the past four weeks, all of us have been praying Come, Lord Jesus. We want our God to come among us, and God does, in and through all of us.
Meister Eckhart wrote that “we are all meant to be mothers of God . . . for God is always needing to be born.” As I place these words along-side the question in the Christmas message from the sisters in Iraq – Where and how are we going to be born in this tough crisis in which we live? – I know that I want to be about this birthing process. I want to visit our sisters and brothers, hear their stories, and let them know of our love and concern. As they have been for us in their suffering, I want the presence of our delegation, in the name of the Dominican Family, to be a sign of hope and solidarity.
In Jesus, we experience God’s solidarity with us. And in our solidarity with one another, we draw strength for all our birthing.