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Dominican nuns serve heroically in midst of Iraq’s violence

Catholic World News - August 12, 2011

In an interview with the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, two Iraqi Dominican nuns recounted their efforts to serve the Church and the needy in the nation amidst war and violence.

“When the bombs started falling in Baghdad and people started to flee, we opened our convents to families,” said one nun. “We gave people a place to stay … Years ago, the government nationalized our Catholic schools. After the regime fell, the government gave the buildings back to us. We let displaced families stay in the schools, too. We made sure people had the necessities to live. Our pantries were always empty, because we always gave everything away.”

“Early in the crisis, especially in 2003 and 2004, most of Iraq’s hospitals closed down,” she added. “We run Al-Hayat Hospital in Baghdad, and we stayed opened. We stayed open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We stayed open for the people.”

“Most of our work is pastoral--not schools and hospitals,” another nun added. “Every year, we prepare about 1,600 boys and girls to receive Communion. Our sisters do this in remote areas where there is no priest. This week and last, 667 children received First Communion in one village, because of our pastoral ministry.”

“We’ve lost lots of family,” a third nun added. “I lost my brother. Five years ago, he was shot. One sister, two of her nephews were kidnapped and disappeared. Another, her nephew disappeared and they have heard nothing about him. It’s been almost five years now. We’re trying to help people and at the same time dealing with our own trauma.”

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