IRAQ – “ We pray for IS fighters. It helps us to forgive”
Three years ago, 73 nuns of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena lived in Kurdistan. Since Islamic State (IS) conquered the Nineveh plain in 2014, a third of them have died. Sister Silvia is one of the survivors. Surrounded by the destruction, she said that they pray for those who follow IS, and learn to forgive them.
“We pray for them as Sisters every day, we pray for our soldiers, for those who help people have a better life,” she said. “This prayer helps us to forgive -not to forget because you cannot forget, – but not to hate the other person. When we hate others, we are doing what the devil wants is not what Jesus wants. “
Sister Silvia lived with 35 other Sisters in a monastery Karakosch, the largest Christian city in Iraq. “When we knew that the IS had arrived, we felt at first fear – fear of being captured, fear of violence, fear of death.” The Sister – whose community had lived on the Nineveh plain for 120 years and in Iraqi Kurdistan – had to flee in August 2015.
Silvia says she hopes that she can continue to live the religious mission that she has devoted her life to. “My dream is to live in peace,” she said. “Both my own peace, in myself, because we are also waging war with ourselves, as well as the peace we live physically, to live in peace, to help in love”
“I tell all Christians that if we are truly Christians, we are baptized in the name of Jesus. We must always trust in the fact that Jesus is with us, Jesus does not leave us. Even if we turn away from Him, He will wait for us to return, “she emphasized.
Gradually, Christians are slowly returning to the Nineveh level, but there is still a lot to be done. “We have asked Aid to the Church in need for help with reconstruction so that people return as soon as possible,” said Sister Silvia. “About 30 Sisters will return, we will give people hope, we will teach them because we will have schools to raise their children and we will continue our catecheses in churches and schools,” she said.
During the occupation of the Nineveh level by the IS, some 100 god-houses were destroyed, most of the Christian churches.
Now, thanks to the support of the Pontifical Church in Need, about 1,000 Christian families have returned to their homes. Since 2014, the Foundation has donated $ 36.6 million for food and construction projects for displaced Christians in northern Iraq. The estimated cost of reconstruction is $ 250 million.