June 13, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, in Iraq, have returned to their community on the Nineveh Plain after years of internal displacement in Northern Iraq – and are now ministering to people there. But, as they rebuild their lives they depend on prayers from the Dominican family.
That was the message that Sister Clara Nas, OP, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, brought to Sisters in the Adrian Dominican Congregation during a recent presentation in Adrian.
Sister Clara was in Adrian during her first trip to the United States to visit Sister Raghad Saeed, OP, in Adrian for the summer during a break from her doctoral studies in nano- technology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Sister Raghad translated Sister Clara’s talk.
The Sisters – and thousands of other Christians and religious minorities – were forced out of their homes on the Nineveh Plain in 2014 when ISIS arrived. While living in northern Iraq, the Sisters ministered in the refugee community by establishing schools and clinics, and providing spiritual support and presence.
Sister Clara said she met with the General Council of her community many times to plan their return home, after it was liberated from ISIS. “It was difficult to make the decision because of the unstable condition in Nineveh,” she said. Ultimately, they decided to return to Qaraqosh and other cities in the area, where most of the Christians were returning.
“Through all things, we are women of faith and hope, so the Sisters continue to accompany our Christian people in this area, to serve the people spiritually and morally, to live close to them and live with them in solidarity,” Sister Clara said.
They found their homes, convents, and churches destroyed or severely damaged and are rebuilding their lives. “We needed to work, fix, and repair what ISIS destroyed and burned,” Sister Clara said. The rebuilding is taking place with the help of Christian humanitarian organizations and the Dominican family in the United States and Europe.
Because their convent was destroyed, the Sisters moved into a small house in the Kurdistan area and other small convents in the areas where they minister. Among other ministries, the Sisters opened a kindergarten in Erbil and a primary school in Ankara. They continue to minister in Baghdad – both in a hospital and in a school with an enrollment of 560 Christian and Muslim students.
To answer a question about what U.S. citizens should do in light of a possible war with Iran, Sister Clara asked that they write to government officials, encouraging them not to bomb Iran. Iraq would be in the middle of such a war. “We need a simple thing – to live in peace,” Sister Clara said. “Just leave us to live in peace and that is all that we need. We can help each other and we can build again, but we need a safe area – not a war zone.”
Sister Clara also asked the U.S. Dominican family and the people of the United States to pray for them. “Please continue to pray for us because we need that, and we are so grateful for your help, for your support, for your solidarity with us.”
As a tangible sign of their gratitude, Sister Clara presented the Adrian Dominican Sisters with an altar cloth, hand-sewn and embroidered by the Dominican Sisters from Iraq. The altar cloth was placed on the altar in St. Catherine Chapel for the Feast of Pentecost on Sunday, June 9, 2019.
Watch the entire video of Sister Clara’s presentation below.
July 28, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – The public is invited to take part in a special novena offered by the Adrian Dominican Sisters to pray for the welfare of their Dominican Sisters and Brothers currently living as refugees in Iraq. The novena will begin on Friday, July 29, 2016, and conclude on Saturday, August 6. The final day marks the second-year anniversary of the date that the Dominican Sisters of Iraq and tens of thousands of other Christians and members of religious minorities fled their homes in the Nineveh Plain of Iraq in response to the arrival and threats of ISIS.
The Sisters will pray the novena during the 10:30 a.m. Mass in St. Catherine Chapel. All are invited to join them at Mass or to pray the novena privately. The public is also welcome to view a special display of photos of the daily lives of the Dominican Sisters and the refugee community. The exhibit will be held in the gathering space of St. Catherine Chapel and will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to noon throughout the novena.
In the Roman Catholic tradition, a novena is a nine-day period of prayer, seeking a particular grace or marking a special feast or event. This novena will be prayed by Dominicans throughout the world in solidarity with those who are suffering as refugees in Iraq and as a reminder to the world that peace is possible and is worth working toward.
The prayers for the July 29-August 6 novena include a daily intention, Scripture reflection, and five minutes of contemplative silence. The intentions and Scripture passages are as follows:
The days leading up to the second anniversary of the exodus can also include meaningful action to help the Dominican Sisters and the people they serve. Check out the website, 1,000 Cranes for Iraq, to learn how your donation of $100 can help the Sisters in their life-changing ministry to the community of refugees.