This is the story of three people. They lived in different places. They never met one another before. Yet one day, the circle closed and these individuals connected in the strange way that only God allows.
17 June 2010
The darkness of night was slowly painting the buildings and streets of Baghdad. The lampposts on the sidewalks were off. There hadn’t been electricity for days.
Da’ad stood by the window and held the youngest of her three daughters. Her right hand played nervously with the cross on her necklace. Her husband, Sami, had asked her several times to remove it.
It’s not safe to show that we are Christians,” he warned.
Da’ad wouldn’t listen. She had always been proud of her faith, and she had no intention of denying it.
The dark ink of night had now taken over. Da’ad felt certain — something terrible had happened to her husband. The factory where he worked closed at 6:30 for security reasons. Sami was an hour and a half late.
Her phone rang at 10:20. As Da’ad listened, tears ran down her face. Then, she told her daughters — get ready to leave. Da’ad grabbed the small amount of cash she kept in a drawer and a photo of Sami.
The next bus for Syria was at 11:00.
19 June 2010
Sister Marie was called in a hurry. Four people had just arrived from Iraq. She opened the convent door and saw a woman and three girls with no luggage. The woman held a photo of a man with a beautiful smile. Sister Marie had seen this before.
“He was shot in the back after work,” explained Da’ad, trying not to sob.
“The man who did it was our neighbor. I know his family. They are Muslims, but we’ve had dinner together. The man shot my husband and then called me to say my daughters and I would be next.”
Da’ad looked straight into Sister Marie’s eyes.
Tell me why,” she demanded. “I can’t understand why.”
Sister Marie hugged Da’ad for the longest time. She could only offer the family accommodations for a few days. The convent was already full of refugees. Nor did Sister Maria have money to rent an apartment for them. Since Iraqi refugees began pouring into Damascus, rents have skyrocketed.
The only option was to call the office of CNEWA.
13 July 2010
Pauline hadn’t opened her mail yet. She’d spent the morning volunteering at the soup kitchen at her parish, as she has done on many mornings since she retired and her husband passed away. When Pauline finally sat down at the kitchen table to sort through what the mailman had left, one envelope captured her attention. It had the familiar red papal seal.
Pauline opened it and read the story of Da’ad, Sister Marie and the apartment they couldn’t afford to rent. Immediately, Pauline opened her checkbook and wrote a generous check for Da’ad and her children. A sentence in the letter convinced her it was the right thing to do: “Whenever you do for the least of brothers, you do it for me.”
This is the work of CNEWA. Connecting people. Closing circles. In a way that only God allows.
*Based on a story of a family from Iraq and a religious sister in Syria. Names have been changed for privacy.