MOSUL, Iraq, JUNE 12, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The faithful in strife-torn Iraq have at least one cause for celebration: the 50th anniversary of the Mission of the Little Sisters of Jesus.
The celebrations in northern Iraq and in Baghdad have been under way since Saturday and are expected to include several activities through the end of July, according to AsiaNews.
In Mosul, the observances began at the Monastery of St. George, with a Mass co-celebrated by Syrian Catholic Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa of Mosul and Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of the Chaldean Church.
The Mass was followed by the inauguration of a photo gallery to honor the women religious’ presence in Iraq and elsewhere.
The order was founded in 1939 by Magdeleine Hutin, who wanted to follow in the footsteps of Charles de Foucauld.
Sister Najeeba Jesus, who lives in Mosul, spoke of the history of the order’s presence in Iraq.
“When Sister Magdeleine learned about the presence of Christians in the Middle East, living side by side with their Muslim brethren in one country, she felt strongly in her heart the need to go to them,” she told AsiaNews.
“After visiting Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, she eventually came to Iraq, in 1952 and 1954, where she met the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Yousif Ghaneema,” explained Sister Najeeba.
She added: “In 1955, Sister Magdeleine sent two fellow sisters to Aqra, a town in the region of Nineveh where Christians and Kurds lived together. They opened their first convent and began living a simple and humble life.”
The Little Sisters of Jesus have always chosen to live wherever poverty, marginalization and violence exist.
In the countries where they work they have embraced local customs and in the East they have adopted Eastern rites.
Today, the order has more 1,300 members. Some 18 are in Iraq, but only nine who are Iraqi. The Little Sisters are also in Afghanistan.