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IRAQ: A massacre and a miracleCategory: Transport for priests and Sisters
Visiting Baghdad is something never to be forgotten but the most memorable experience was meeting Fr Aysar.
The priest has risked life and limb ministering to faithful grieving after the massacre in Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation Cathedral where 45 Christians Massgoers died and 100 others were injured. Arriving in the parish a few days after the attack in October 2010, Fr Aysar described the people's resolute faith. Some left the city for safety and others stayed, giving witness to Christ by coming to the cathedral every Sunday.
He told us: "After the attack on the cathedral, people asked me to pray for a miracle. But for me a miracle has already taken place. Our church did not close, people are coming back and the Faith will not die out in the lands of the Bible." Staying here means overcoming huge obstacles – literally. We entered the church, passing through two security walls – one inside the other, running round the entire parish site.
Armed guards and security vehicles provide constant surveillance. Some people cannot get to church because checkpoints and other security make travel in the city very difficult. Most do not have cars and taking a taxi is too expensive. Fr Aysar said: "The people can't reach the church so the church has to reach the people."
And so ACN has provided a minibus so Fr Aysar can go to parishioners' homes and bring people to church – youngsters come for catechism and adults comefor prayer groups. As we left, Fr Aysar said: "Thank you for your support. Please pass on my thanks to your many kind benefactors."ACN is helping with Mass stipends for poor and persecuted priests in Iraq and across the Middle East – which the Pope has set as a priority for ACN's aid.