March 19, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – As March 19, the anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, approaches, Dominican Sisters, Associates, and Friars in the United States are reminding the world of the suffering of the people of Iraq, including members of the Dominican family now displaced in Northern Iraq.
The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, Iraq – along with tens of thousands of Iraq Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities – have been living in exile in the Kurdish region of Iraq since August 6, 2014, when they were forced to hurriedly evacuate the villages of the Nineveh Plain to escape the persecution of ISIS. Facing the same displacement as their fellow refugees, the Sisters have sought to offer comfort and hope, providing schooling to young children, opening two healthcare clinics, and offering pastoral care.
Dominicans throughout the United States are marking the 13th anniversary of the US invasion by drawing attention to the continuing struggles of the people of Iraq. Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates are posting photos on Facebook and other social media holding signs that proclaim, “I have family in Iraq” and “We have not forgotten.” See more photos on the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Facebook page.
Dominican artists have been creating artwork to support the ministerial efforts of the Adrian Dominican Sisters on behalf of the exiled and displaced people of Iraq. Initiated by Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, the project involves painting 1,000 cranes and donating the work as a benefit (see www.1000cranesforiraq.org). The net proceeds of their work is used to help support the relief efforts of the Iraqi Dominican Sisters.
An ancient Japanese tradition of folding 1,000 cranes to have a wish fulfilled was popularized by a Japanese girl, exposed at the age of two to the radiation of the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima. Although she died of leukemia at the age of 12 before she could finish folding 1,000 paper cranes, her classmates completed the project for her.
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 Iraq to serve her people.