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Former Prioresses of Dominican Sisters of Iraq Give Update and Thank Adrian Dominican Sisters

November 4, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – As news continues of the liberation of some of the villages of the Mosul area of Iraq, two former Prioress Generals of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, of Iraq, visited Adrian to update the Congregation on the ongoing situation to thank the Adrian Dominican Sisters for their prayers and support. 

The brief and moving presentation by Sisters Marie Therese Hanna, OP, and Maria Hanna, OP, took place at the end of the November 1 All Saints Liturgy in St. Catherine Chapel at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse. The Sisters’ remarks were live-streamed and recorded for future viewing.

“I think you know and are following the news about what is happening in Iraq,” Sister Marie Therese told the assembly. In spite of the liberation of the towns and villages, “all is destroyed – the church, the convents, the houses for the families.” She spoke of the Sisters’ and other refugees’ struggles to understand and accept what had happened. “We need courage to continue, and I know you are with us,” she told the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Iraq have been refugees for two years and four months, since ISIS came to the Nineveh Plain in August 2014 and forced the Sisters and ten of thousands of Christians and other minorities to flee. As refugees, the Dominican Sisters spent their energies bringing support and hope to the rest of the refugee community through schools, health clinics, and religious services.

Her central message was one of gratitude for the prayers and support of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and of the U.S. Dominican family. “Thank you … for being in our life to support us and to allow us to continue our mission there.” 

Sister Marie Therese noted that, when she and Sister Maria Hanna had first come to Adrian 11 years ago, they felt like strangers. “But when we entered the chapel and shared in prayer, all this has changed,” she added. “We feel we are in our family.”

The two communities of Dominican Sisters have enjoyed close ties during the past 11 years since a group of Dominican Sisters from Iraq came to the United States to live and minister with Adrian Dominican Sisters and to earn advanced degrees to better serve their people in Iraq. 

Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, noted how fitting it was “on this Feast of All Saints that we have two of our living saints among us,” representing the other Sisters in their community. 

From Iraq, Sister Clara Nas, OP, current Prioress General of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine, sent a letter November 1 to the greater Dominican family, updating them on the status of the Sisters there. Noting the Sisters’ joy at the eventual recapture of their villages and towns on the Nineveh Plain, Sister Clara also noted the destruction of the towns.

“We knew that when we left, our towns would not be the same when we return,” she wrote. “The reality is that ISIS has used our houses to hide tunnel entrances and store weapons. Additionally, they planted bombs in houses, ready to explode as soon as the door opens, and mines are everywhere in the land.”

The Sisters and other refugees are “living in a liminal space,” with some wanting to leave their country and others wanting to return to rebuild their homes. “We are just waiting for the ‘decree of Cyrus’ (that allowed the Jews to return from exile) to be announced again, allowing us to return and build our churches and houses.”

For more information on the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, of Iraq, and on ways to help them in their ministry to their refugee community, visit 1,000 Cranes for Iraq.

 

Feature photo: Sisters Maria Hanna, OP, left, and Marie Therese Hanna, OP, former Prioresses of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Erbil, Iraq, extend greetings and give an update to the assembly during the All Saints Liturgy in St. Catherine Chapel on November 1. Photo by Melinda P. Ziegler


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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