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Former Prioress of Dominican Sisters of Iraq Recounts Community’s Return Home

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. 


Public Invited to Participate In Novena for Refugees in Iraq

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: 

  • Friday, July 29: for children and youth. Reflection: “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God” (John 11:27).

  • Saturday, July 30: for parents and elders. Reflection: “Let your saving help, O God, protect me” (Psalm 69:30b).

  • Sunday, July 31: for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and all agencies providing care and services. Reflection: “Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill” (Ecclesiastes 2:21a).

  • Monday, August 1: for refugees throughout the Middle East. Reflection: The prophet who prophesies peace is recognized as truly sent by the LORD (Jeremiah 28:9).

  • Tuesday, August 2: For Iraqi Dominican Friars and all Iraqi clergy in exile. Reflection: Jesus spoke to them: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).

  • Wednesday, August 3: for the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, Iraq. Reflection: “The LORD has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel” (Jeremiah 31:7).

  • Thursday, August 4: for Presentation Dominican Sisters in Iraq. Reflection: “Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me” (Psalm 51:14).

  • Friday, August 5: for Iraqi Lay Dominicans. Reflection: “See, upon the mountains there advances the bearers of good news, announcing peace!” (Nahum 2:1).

  • Saturday, August 6: for all who suffer the trauma of these past years. Reflection: “Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my chosen Son; listen to him’” (Luke 9:35).

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.


 

 

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