The monks of Mepkin Abbey were very fortunate to have Sister Nadia of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena of Mosul (part of the Dominican Family) with us on retreat. Sister is a native of Iraq and has just completed studies as a nurse practitioner at Barry University in Miami. While with us on retreat – which was a break before going to Michigan to intern and practice what she studied before returning to her country – Sister Nadia accepted the abbot’s invitation to speak with the community about the current reality of life in Iraq and that part of the world for Christians. Shortly after Sr. Nadia arrived for retreat, Father Brian Pierce, O.P. came to Mepkin to continue work writing a new book. Having recently returned from Iraq and Syria to visit the refugee camps there with Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. (former Master General of the Dominican Order), Father Brian joined Sister Nadia to speak with the community in chapter and inform us of what he and Father Timothy found on their trip. Each speaker’s words were very enlightening and gave us insight into the courage of those living in most challenging circumstances as they profess their belief in Jesus. It heightened our awareness of the complexity of what we are learning about from various news sources. And it informed our prayer as we daily remember all those who are suffering and longing for peace and security to be restored.
Sister Nadia spoke in general of the history of her country and the peaceful coexistence of Christians and Muslims for many years. So many of the services provided by her sisters in education and health care benefit the entire population of the region – both Christians and Muslims. Drawing a map she explained what has happened in the regions of her country and for countries along the borders in recent years as religious fanaticism has changed the relationships of neighbors who used to be very comfortable with each other. For Sr. Nadia’s own family, in recent months word came that they had two hours to flee before ISIS troops would enter their neighborhood. In fear and anxiety they left with only the clothing on their backs and things they could carry. All the Christians travelled to the camps for the displaced. Sadly neighbors once considered friends were calling them on their cell phones to say: “We are now living in your house. Remember your jewelry, we have it now.” … and the like. You may find more information and photographs on the internet.
Father Brian described the warm welcome he and Father Timothy received as they visited various schools and efforts under the auspices of the Dominicans. Acknowledging at the same time that there is fear and the disquiet because of the threat of violence at any time.Read More »
Note: The following piece was received from Fr. Brian and Fr. Timothy, seeking to raise awareness about the plight of Christians in Iraq.
At the invitation of Fr. Amir Jaje OP, the Vicar of the Arabic Vicariate of the Province of France, we made a visit to Iraq, from January 8th to 16th. We are very aware of how superficial our understanding of this complex and beautiful country and its suffering, but even so we would like to share what we have heard and seen, the hope that our brethren and sisters keep alive, and what we can do to support them. Please forgive any inaccuracies.
Our brothers and sisters belong to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating almost from the time of Christ. They are our elders and so we must be with them in this terrible time. Also the suffering of Iraq is symptomatic of the crisis of our whole world. ISIS, or Da’esh as it is more usually called in Iraq, is a child of our times. Its violence derives, at least in part from the violence of Western culture, with its love of guns. The jihadists love to watch our films with all their endless killing. We are complicit with what is happening here. Our invasions triggered the crisis that the Iraqi people now endure.
We started in Baghdad. A travel website advised us not to go at all, but if we did, to remain within the fortified Green Zone, where nearly all foreigners are sheltered. If one travels outside that fortress, the advised means of transport are either helicopter or armoured car. Neither the brethren nor the sisters had either of these! As we drove around Baghdad with our brother, Amir, at no time did we experience any tension or feel any threat. Everywhere we were welcomed with a generosity which is astonishing, given how our countries have played a part in the explosion that is ripping apart this country.Read More »
The monks of Mepkin are grateful to Father Ladislaus Orsy, SJ for coming to help us celebrate Father Christian’s 100th birthday. As a gesture to recognize our second abbot’s years of service in seminary education previous to entering Mepkin, and his contributions in service to the Order by reason of his academic credentials in theology and law, Father Orsy was kind enough to honor Father Christian by offering two chapters. In each chapter Father Les reflected on the church 50 years after the Second Vatican Council. His particular emphasis was on material having to do with the dignity of the human person (Dignitatis Humanae), an area of great personal interest for him and a theme to which the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has drawn attention in a recent address.Read More »
Sunday, September 14th, 2014 on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the Mepkin community celebrated the 100th birthday of Father Christian Carr. Father Christian’s nephew, Dan Stacey and his wife, Eve, joined the community at the celebration of the Eucharist and for Midday Prayer and the noon meal. Father Christian served as the second abbot of Mepkin and in his abbatial service saw the community through important years of transition following the Second Vatican Council. He is remembered for encouraging a deep sense of hospitality as is recommended in the Rule of Saint Benedict. In the years since he retired as abbot, Father Christian has served for a time as chaplain to our Trappistine sisters in Uganda, been most generous for a long while in offering visitors an orientation and tours, as well as guiding those who have sought his wise counsel in spiritual direction. With the community, Father Christian’s family and our retreatants were a select group of friends whom Father invited to be with him for the ocasion.Read More »
Abbot Stan distributed new Psalters to the community on August 23rd, 2014 to replace the books the monks at Mepkin have been using seven time a day, seven days a week for the past 38 years. “Prayer comes from God himself….and the Psalter is prayer inspired by God,” said Abbot Stan.Read More »