After their seminary in Qaraqosh was dissolved following a brutal ISIS attack in 2014, four Iraqi seminarians chose not to give up after being forced to flee, but to continue their path to the priesthood. Now, a year and a half after the attack that uprooted them from their homes, the four men will be ordained deacons, and have chosen a church in an Erbil refugee camp for the March 19 ceremony. “People want hope, and when they see that there are four young people who will become deacons and after a few months they will priests, that will give them hope and the power to stay,” Remi Marzina Momica told CNA March 17. Momica is one of the four seminarians from the Syriac Catholic Church of Mosul who will be ordained Saturday. All of them formerly studied at St. Ephraim’s seminary in the mainly Christian city of Qaraqosh, which is now under the control of ISIS. The young seminarians were forced to flee the city when the militants attacked on Aug. 6, 2014, driving out inhabitants who didn’t meet their demands to convert to Islam, pay a hefty tax or face death. Before being forced to leave Qaraqosh, Momica and his sister were among the victims wounded in a 2010 bombing of buses transporting mainly Christian college students from the Plains of Nineveh to the University of Mosul, where they were enrolled in classes. Since the Qaraqosh seminary has been closed following the 2014 attack, the four seminarians were sent to finish their studies at the Al-Sharfa Seminary in Harissa, Lebanon. The only seminary left in Iraq providing formation for diocesan priests in the country is the Chaldean rite’s St. Peter Patriarchal seminary for the Chaldean Patriarchate in Erbil. Archbishop Bashar Warda is the Chaldean Archbishop who oversees the Erbil diocese. After completing their studies in Lebanon, the four Syriac Catholic rite seminarians returned to Iraq for their ordination.
Photo: Catholic News Agency