My name is Sr. Caroline Saeed Jarjis. I was born in Baghdad, Iraq, into a Catholic Christian family. My father is a now retired engineer and my mother was a teacher and principal at a High School. I graduated from the Technical Medicine University in the field of hemodialysis. I entered the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1998. I professed my solemn vows in 2007.
My congregation, founded in 1911 by Fr. Abdal Ahad Rais, who studied with the Dominicans in Mosul, has suffered many tragedies throughout its history. The most tragic being that of our first martyr: Sr. Cecilia Moshi Hanna. On August 15, 2002, three armed assailants entered our convent in Baghdad and found our seventy-one year old Sister Cecilia preparing to quietly retire to her room. She was brutally attacked by the dagger-wielding assailants and repeatedly stabbed to death. Sr. Cecilia’s neck was slit and her head severed from her body.
ISIS has misplaced more than 100,000 Christians and other minorities following attacks. Many were given less than half an hour to flee their houses. Most of the displaced Christian adults are educated professionals –doctors, engineers, architects, government workers, teachers and university professors– who were providing services to the Iraqi people. Now their future is uncertain.
Our congregation responded to the needs of our Christian brothers and sisters and others by opening our Generalate House to welcome displaced girls and women (ages 13-50) and a rest home for elderly women. However, in December 2014, ISIS bombed the Generalate House destroying it completely, leaving only the cross of our church standing (!) This has served as a beacon to our sisters that all will pass and that someday we will return!
I started my bachelor’s degree in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in 2010 after a recommendation from the Dominican friars in Mosul who play an important role in Iraqi society and in my own personal life. I was convinced that through my studies in the social sciences combined with the Catholic social teaching of the Church and the Dominican tradition of social justice, which are the main characteristics of this Faculty, I could better accompany my Iraqi people from darkness into light, from a culture of death to a culture of life that respects the dignity of every human being.
For my fellow Iraqi religious sisters and me it has been extremely difficult to find funding to continue our studies and pursue our dreams. My dream is to return to Iraq and especially help abused, neglected and trafficked women with my studies at the Angelicum. I’m on my final year of the license program after having obtained my bachelor’s degree in 2014.
Other Iraqi religious sisters, brothers, priests and laymen and women may follow in my footsteps to the Angelicum. The Church in Iraq has been a shining witness amid the misery. Two bishops, several priests, and more than 100 displaced sisters are still living among the people, helping them and sharing in their sorrows. My fervent plea to you is to care for your Iraqi Christian brothers and sisters that are suffering!
Help us help them!
(To help, you can donate through The International Dominican Funds by clicking here)
(11 January 2016)