My First Day in Iraq
On the first day of a mission with the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and Cardinal Dolan I had an opportunity to visit both an elementary school and a university in Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq. Both were only built and opened within the past year to deal with the exodus of Christians fleeing the onslaught of ISIS around Mosul beginning in the summer of 2014.
These photos reflect the vibrancy of both sites as their very existence brings dignity and hope to those being educated at these schools. The Dominican Sisters operate the elementary school that is strongly supported by CNEWA and a number of other Catholic humanitarian and pastoral aid organizations. The University is a public university that CNEWA has provided assistance in the form of furnishings and a generator. It educates both Christian and Muslim students, men and women together for degrees in the humanities and business.
In addition, a festive gathering of prayer and theatre among hundreds of Christian youth – mostly Syriac Catholic – was held next to the university to open the Year of Mercy. It was led by the local Bishop who had fled with his people from Mosul. Msgr. Kozar, the head of CNEWA gave a very warm and inspiring talk to the youth.