Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Answering God's call in Iraq.

Yesterday, I came across an inspiring article on vocations to the Catholic priesthood in Iraq which deserves your attention. Here's an excerpt:
Father Daud Barber of the College of St. Ephrem in Qaraqosh, Iraq once traveled to Egypt, Syria, and Germany to study music and play the oud, an ancient stringed instrument. He performed with the symphony in Lebanon, he recounts, his coal-colored eyes brightening at the memory.

But Barber, who grew up in the Nineveh Plains of Iraq, eventually returned home to teach music at St. Ephrem, a Syrian Catholic seminary named for the fourth-century Turkish saint who wrote hymns and poetic sermons. The seminary is located near Mosul, one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq, particularly for Christians.

"I can’t live there," Barber says of Lebanon, shaking his cropped hair, the wiry ends tinted gray. "I needed something here. It’s something spiritual. Iraqis are different. We are part of this earth. We want to stay in Iraq."

In the years since U.S. forces toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime, hundreds of thousands of Christian families have fled Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra, the three largest Christian communities in Iraq, seeking refuge in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and in neighboring Middle Eastern countries, primarily Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon.

. . .

But even with Iraq’s displaced Christians, something remarkable is happening. The number of men entering the Catholic seminaries in Iraq is up, even as the populations that would produce the priests are dwindling.

"There’s not anything to stop priests," Barber says. "Besides, in all of Iraq Christians still want to be married, they want to be baptized, they want to pray. All of the sacraments are important to stay with God. Because of that, we must be priests to serve our people."

The Syrian Catholic seminary at St. Ephrem in Qaraqosh currently has eight men studying to be priests. St. Peter’s Chaldean Catholic seminary in Erbil has 26.

"We can’t tell them they will be safe," says Fadi Lion Nissan, rector of St. Peter’s. "Nobody can give you a guarantee."

And yet they come.
To read the rest, click here. AMDG.


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