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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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Dominican Artists Launch “1000 Cranes for Iraq” Website in Support

August 3, 2015, Adrian, Michigan – As an act of solidarity with the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq and the people of northern Iraq, the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan are holding a solemn Procession and Prayer on the afternoon of August 6. The event marks the one-year anniversary of the Iraqis’ flight from persecution by ISIS.

The observance, which is open to the public, will start at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday, August 6, 2015, in front of Madden Hall on the Motherhouse Campus in Adrian, Michigan.

A new website (www.1000cranesforiraq.org) featuring cranes painted by Dominican artists was launched to raise funds in support of the refugee relief efforts of the Iraqi Sisters. The project centers on the legend made popular by a Japanese girl exposed to radiation from the Hiroshima atomic bomb who died of leukemia at age 12 before she could fulfill her wish of folding 1,000 cranes in prayer for health and world peace. Her classmates finished the project. (August 6 marks the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.)

At 3:30 p.m. EDT, the bell in the tower of Holy Rosary Chapel will toll, marking the time (10:30 p.m. in Iraq) one year ago, when the Sisters were hurriedly evacuating their convents in Qaraqosh and the neighboring villages in the Nineveh Plain, with little more than their habits, beginning a long and harrowing escape. It took them nearly 10 hours to reach the safety of the Kurdish capital of Erbil – ordinarily a 50-minute drive – as they inched along roads jammed with tens of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities fleeing from their centuries-old home on the heels of a terrorist attack by ISIS.

The sounding of the bell will be followed by a moment of silence to remember and pray for the Iraqi people and world peace. Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Congregation, will then read a recent letter from Sister Maria Hanna, OP, Prioress of the Iraqi Congregation, describing their current situation. Sister Kelly will invite participants to walk in silent procession to St. Catherine Chapel, recalling the horror of the flight to safety that the Dominican Sisters and their people endured at this time last year. All will join in a common prayer, created by the U.S. Dominican Iraq Coordinating Committee for use this day by Dominican congregations and provinces throughout the United States.

At the end of the prayer, participants will be invited to sign post cards to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to work with the Administration and Congress to increase funding for humanitarian assistance for internally displaced Iraqi citizens and for Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries. The cards note that “The United States bears a profound responsibility to assist the Iraqi people in this time of continuing crisis.”

The Dominican Sisters of Adrian have a special relationship with the Dominican Sisters of Iraq, as several young Iraqi Sisters lived, ministered, and studied with the Michigan-based community from 2005 to May 2015, when the last Iraqi Sister completed her training as a physician’s assistant and returned to serve her people. An older Iraqi Sister who suffered a stroke while visiting family in Detroit is buried in the Congregation’s cemetery.

The 1,000 cranes project was conceived by Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, an Adrian Dominican artist. She has painted nearly 160 6”x6” paintings to date and estimates it will take about three years to paint 1,000. Other Dominican artists are joining her in donating their art to the project, including Sisters Mary James (Fran) Hickey, OP, Suzanne Schreiber, OP, and Janet Wright, OP. The website and logo was developed by Tommy Herrmann, a former student of Sister Cervenka.

Dominican Sisters and Friars in the United States have longstanding ties with Dominicans in Iraq. Three delegations of U.S. Dominicans visited Iraq in successive summers from 1999 to 2001 as a witness of solidarity with the Iraqi Dominicans and people of Iraq, as they suffered the effects of severe economic sanctions. In late 2002, in the light of the Bush Administration’s threat of war against Iraq, Dominicans everywhere began to wear buttons with the phrase, “I have family in Iraq,” as a sign of their concern for and solidarity with the people of Iraq.


Photos from Sister Durstyne Farnan, one of three Dominican Sisters who visited the displaced Iraqi Sisters in January of this year in Erbil, Kurdistan.



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