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Prioress of Iraqi Dominican Congregation Offers Update on Situation at Home
Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters General Council with Sisters Huda Shito, OP, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq

June 26, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – After fleeing the terrorist group ISIS in 2014, leaving their convents in the Nineveh Plain, spending years in internal displacement, and returning to their homes to begin recovery, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq still face an uncertain future.

That was the message that Sister Huda Shito, OP, Prioress of that Congregation, brought to Adrian Dominican Sisters during a special presentation last month. She visited Adrian shortly after the graduation of one of her Sisters, Raghad Saqat, OP, who recently completed her doctorate in physics at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Sister Raghad will teach physics at the University of Mosul in Iraq.

Sister Huda spoke of the Sisters’ exile and of the difficulty of returning home after the liberation of the cities in the Nineveh Plain. “We found all the damage that affected our villages, most of our convents, houses, and churches,” she said. After rebuilding their damaged properties, the Sisters continued their mission to the people of the area. 

Sister Huda Shito, OP, left, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq, gives an update on the situation for the Sisters in Iraq, while Sister Raghad Saqat, OP, PhD, listens

“The first challenge we faced was the situation of the country, which is still unsettled,” Sister Huda said. “There is no clear vision. We go to sleep and we do not know what is going to happen tomorrow.” Still, she said, the Sisters strive to give hope to the people and to persuade the Christians to remain in Iraq. 

Although her report on the current situation in Iraq was often painful, the arrival of Sisters Huda and Raghad in Adrian was also in many ways a joyful reunion. The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq – even in the midst of the U.S. invasion of Iraq – developed a close relationship with Sisters in many U.S. Dominican congregations, including the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Several of the younger Sisters from Iraq were sponsored by U.S. Dominican congregations for higher education in the United States.

Sister Elise D. García, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, spoke to this close connection during her introduction of Sister Huda. “Like all the Dominican Sisters we have been privileged and honored to call our own during their amazing studies here in the United States, we have cherished the five years we have had with Raghad,” she said. She thanked Sister Huda and the members of her congregation for the trust they placed in the Adrian Dominican Sisters for allowing them to sponsor and host their Sisters during their studies. 

The close bond was even more evident at the conclusion of the presentation, when Adrian Dominican Sisters Suzanne Schreiber, OP, and Carleen Maly, OP, performed a light-hearted song they had written in tribute to Sister Raghad. 

Watch the entire presentation in the video below. 

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