By Archbishop Samir Nassar
Behind the scenes, quietly and discreetly, 82 women religious belonging to various congregations are serving the Church in Damascus. They are the great force, which, drawing strength from the breath of the Holy Spirit, gives life to charisms of the Gospel in a country torn apart by war. They do so without getting tired or being afraid.
Some of them are living in small communities, housed in the large schools they used to run but which were nationalized in 1968; others live in small hospitality centers or in modest apartments among the people, living a life of poverty, prayer and praise.
Listening to the most vulnerable
These consecrated religious are always at the ready to welcome and listen to the most vulnerable of the city’s residents. They provide for the most urgent needs, especially during these years of war and isolation. They store up, in their hearts, all the suffering and need of this vulnerable population, forgotten in their misery and insecurity. Defiant of powerlessness, these men and women religious put up a wall of lamentation with their love, ensuring a charitable presence among people who have lost everything.
Faces of compassion
The engagement of our beloved Sisters who serve families is made manifest by their presence at child-care centers, in schools, dispensaries, eating places, as well as catechetical and formation centers. Let us salute their heroic mission as they take care of the needs of the sick, the wounded and the aged, all of them burdened by war. Theirs is a pastoral vanguard.
The promise of a future
This ‘experimental’ mission of our dear Sisters remains focused on the schools, the formation of children and young people. This educational service transmits values of peace, tolerance and dialogue, all geared toward a destroyed homeland and the renewal of the Church. Let’s salute all the types of psychological support for the victims of war, especially the children, the young people, their lives wounded by violence, delinquency and exclusion.
This beautiful witness of light, hidden and barely known, doesn’t it deserve some gratitude and recognition? Dearly beloved consecrated women in Damascus, the Resurrected Christ will thank you and bless you!
Archbishop Nassar is the Maronite ordinary of Damascus.
With picture of Syrian children (© ACN)
Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.