A collaboration among the local church, a veteran and Iraqi Christians…and the Blessed Mother
In the village of Lourdes, France, it was already happening.
About 15 Iraqi Christian families have arrived in the pilgrimage town over the past year. Up to 20 families, roughly 70 to 80 people, are expected to have reached the town by early 2016, Reuters reported:
Under a local Catholic initiative called Echo 65 run by retired soldier Pascal Vigneron, the refugees stay with Amer and Nahren at first before being sent to other homes in the parish.
The news service identifies “Amer and Nahren” simply as a Christian couple that fled Iraq about 10 years ago and has been living in France since then. The article did not use the family names of any of the refugees quoted in the article.
The couple has helped other Iraqi Christians with the “active involvement” of their parish priest, Father Jean-Francois Duhar.
Father Duhar and Bishop Nicolas Brouwet of Tarbes and Lourdes contacted the French consulate in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, after France agreed last year to grant asylum to persecuted Iraqi Christians. Visas were issued for those with host families to go to.
Many of the new families are struggling to overcome the memory of their experience with the Islamic State group, however, and the challenge of learning French. Staying with Amer and Nahren, can help with the transition to a new life, Vigneron.
As does being in Lourdes.
“We are split between sadness and joy. But Lourdes is like a flower offering us her perfume. It is the town of the Virgin Mary, giving us our faith,” said one of the refugees, Youssif, 48, a former teacher of the Aramaic and Syriac languages.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?