Sister Maria Nazareth (photo via Aid to the Church in Need)
From Catholic News Agency comes this
story of a religious sister from Argentina who has asked her superiors to
send her to the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo to aid Christians there. Sister
Maria Nazareth says she was inspired to make this decision by Pope Francis’
call to “go toward the outskirts of existence” and help “those who are the most
distant, those who are forgotten.”
Sr. Maria, an Argentine native, has chosen to go to Aleppo to
help her two fellow sisters of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, who assist
Bishop George Abou Khazen, the city’s apostolic vicar; she will also work in a
student hostel for Christian girls.
asked my superiors whether I can go to Syria; they didn't ask me. That's the
usual way with us … you are not sent by your superiors, but you yourself must
ask for permission to undertake a difficult mission.”
has been subjected to “barrel bombs” by the Syrian regime in recent months. The
simple bombs are tossed from the side of helicopters, falling indiscriminately
on civilians and rebel fighters alike.
to the Violations Documentation Center, an opposition monitoring group, nearly
700 civilians have been killed by barrel bombs and warplanes in Aleppo province
since Feb. 22.
city is currently divided among districts controlled by the Syrian regime, the
Free Syrian Army, and by Kurds, and fighting has escalated in the city in recent
trust in God and the Virgin Mary,” Sr. Maria said. “As members of a religious
order we enjoy her special protection. In addition I am being accompanied by
the prayers of so many people in my order. Our priests and sisters pray in
particular for the Middle East. We sense this.”
2013, several aid workers and Christians were kidnapped in the vicinity of
Aleppo. That October, seven volunteers with the Red Cross and Red Crescent were
abducted. In April, two Orthodox bishops were kidnapped, and their driver
priest from Aleppo told CNA in June 2013 that he was returning to the city
“because it is his duty,” and was going to take a helicopter because travel by
car is too dangerous for Christians.
know that there are dangers,” said Sr. Maria. “Something can happen. Even the
journey to Aleppo is not without hazard. You need 12 hours for the not-so-long
road from Damascus to Aleppo on account of the large number of checkpoints.”
road from Damascus to Aleppo is a mere 230 miles.
can befall you anywhere,” Sr. Maria reflected.
the whole article here.