Chapel in Virgin Mary refugee camp. Erbil

After their seminary in Qaraqosh was closed down and they were forced to flee following a brutal ISIS attack in 2014, four Iraqi seminarians were determined not to give up, but to continue their path to the priesthood.

The four seminarians went to the Al-Sharfa Seminary in Harissa, Lebanon to finish their studies Now, a year and a half after the attack that forced them to leave their homes, they have returned to Iraq where they will be ordained deacons. They told their bishop that they specifically wanted their ordination to take place in a refugee camp, “because we are refugees” and have chosen a church in an Erbil refugee camp for the ceremony.

“People want hope, and when they see that there are four young people who will become deacons and after a few months they will be  priests, that will give them hope and the power to stay,” said Remi Marzina Momica ,one of the four seminarians from the Syriac Catholic Church of Mosul, who is being ordained.

All of them had previously been studying at St. Ephraim’s seminary in the mainly Christian city of Qaraqosh, which is now under the control of Islamic State. The young seminarians were forced to flee the city when the militants attacked on 6 Aug 2014, driving out inhabitants who didn’t meet their demands to convert to Islam, pay a hefty tax or face death.

Since the Qaraqosh seminary closed down following the 2014 attack, the only seminary left in Iraq for the training of  diocesan priests is St. Peter Patriarchal seminary for the Chaldean Patriarchate in Erbil.