August 30, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – A few weeks after the third anniversary of their displacement from their homes on the plain of Nineveh in Iraq due to the threat of ISIS, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq are beginning to return home – to face new challenges.
Sister Marie Therese Hanna, OP, former Prioress and member of the community’s General Council, gave an update on the lives of the Sisters following Mass August 30 at St. Catherine Chapel at the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse.
“Today we see the marvelous work of God,” she said. “The rebuilding process started. Many of the families returned to their homes in the two Christian cities, Telskuf and Qaraqush.” The Sisters are also beginning to return, living in small houses because of the extensive damage done to their convents, and are planning to open private schools.
For the past three years, the Sisters had been living as internally displaced persons in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq, reaching out through schools, clinics, and their very presence to other refugees also living in difficult situations. The Sisters and other residents of the Nineveh Plains area were able to return to their homes after the recent liberation of the area by Iraqi forces. However, they found their homes to be severely damaged.
Sister Marie Therese noted that her community faces external and internal challenges: destruction of their communities, the difficulty of change by leaving behind the lives they had led for three years.
“What matters to us is to understand the will of god in our uncertain circumstances,” she said. “It is not important for us to have buildings or projects, but have mission and serve our people and accompany them because we have the same fate.”
In the past three years – with its drama, challenges, and hope – the Dominican Sisters felt the “powerful prayer” of their Dominican family in the United States. “On behalf of our Sister Clara, our Prioress General, and the Council and the Sisters, I want to thank you, Sister Patricia [Siemen], the Councilors, and each of you for your love, prayers, solidarity, and concern.”
For more information on the situation of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, of Iraq, read the update written by Sister Clara Nas, OP, Prioress, on the third anniversary of the ISIS attack, August 6, 2017.
Feature photo: Sister Marie Therese Hanna, OP, seated, left, met with the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters: Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, seated right, and, standing, from left, Sisters Elise García, OP, Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Patricia Harvat, OP, and Frances Nadolny, OP.
November 21, 2016, Qaraqosh, Iraq – More than two years after fleeing their convents on the Plains of Nineveh to escape the onslaught of the Islamic State, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq returned home – only to find Qaraqosh in ruins. While Iraqi soldiers fired celebratory shots after retaking the area from ISIS, the Sisters rummaged through the rubble of their old homes. Even Immaculate Conception Church, the site of many celebrations and liturgies, was in rubble.
Read the article by Adnan R. Khan and watch the video of the Sisters’ bittersweet homecoming.
If you would like to join our efforts to provide monetary support to the Iraqi Sisters, please make a donation here, indicating it is for “Iraqi Relief.” Dominican artists are also helping raise awareness and funds in support of the Iraqi Sisters. Each artist is creating crane artwork and selling the work as a benefit. Visit 1000 Cranes for Iraq for details. Please note that contributions for charitable purposes abroad are not tax deductible under U.S. tax code.
Feature photo: "In the wake of ISIS" by Adnan Khan