World News

Rebuilding a Society From Ashes

Living a normal life in Iraq in the aftermath of the devastating rule of Isis presents significant challenges to the country. The task is not just about rebuilding the necessary infrastructure but first and foremost its about strengthening local families and communities. To this effect and with the help of the Virgin Mary, a three-day long event was organised in the Iraqi city of Qaraqosh, where the people gathered to support the Iraqi Christian women by celebrating the new Feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church,  introduced by Pope Francis.

The idea of the celebration came to the mind of its organiser, Fr Roni Momika, himself a refugee from Qaraqosh in 2014, after he saw the hardships of the people and the devastating consequences of the recent past.  As he told to CNA, the event was meant to “rebuild women spiritually, biblically and psychologically” ( meaning unclear)

In this war-torn country where damage repair is taking longer than expected the process is slow especially because of the lack of aid. 

“Everything is difficult here, and we want to rebuild the woman before we rebuild the houses,” said Fr Momika. He went on to say: “If you rebuild the women, you then rebuild the children, and when you rebuild the children, you can rebuild the family, and after that, we can rebuild the community here in Qaraqosh”.

Momika’s regular women’s group draws some 800 attendees weekly. He estimates that approximately 4,500 people, including children, attended some part of a larger April meeting. In the course of the three-day long event, participants held get-togethers and started to make a special icon of Mary which was written for the occasion. The icon was written by a local artist who adorned the Virgin in the traditional clothes of women from Qaraqosh. (Icons are written if they are real Byzantine/ Greek Icons, otherwise they are painted)

On the last day of the event, Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Kirkuk and Kurdistan, Youhanna Boutros Moshe, celebrated Mass preceded by a procession to the city’s Cathedral. This was the first significant event in the city that boasts of a population of 50,000 most of whom are Christians. According to Fr Momika, until now, of the 20,000 people that have returned to the city, most of them are Syriac Catholics. “However, something greater is returning to the cities besides the families, and this is hope,” says Momika,

“We want to send a message that Isis burned the stones, but they cannot burn the soul, and they cannot burn Christianity or our faith,” Momika added. “Our faith is big [in] Jesus Christ and his Mother, the Virgin Mary. This is the message.”

Bence Dallos

Sources: Catholic News Agency,  Aleteia

Image: Fr. Roni Momika

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