Iraqi’s Community 5th Anniversary – October 25th, 2014

November 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Director's Blog, Iraq

On October 25th, Our Lady of Mesopotamia Syriac Catholic Mission celebrated the 5th anniversary at Our Lady of Lourdes in Newton, MA. It’s the first and only Syriac Catholic mission in the Archdiocese of Boston and in New England in all. The celebration was limited to a Holy Mass celebrated by Father Bassim Shoni followed by a simple gathering in the parish hall. Due to the ongoing persecution of Christians in their homeland, especially in the last few months, the celebration this year was kept simple. Members of the community  have been suffering deeply during these past months as friends and relatives are persecuted in the land they grew up and created so many memories.

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Fr. Bassim Shoni and Fr. Higgins celebrating Mass.

Our Lady of Mesopotamia mission adds a unique flavor to the Archdiocese of Boston. Many families have migrated from Iraq early in  90’s while many new families arrived as refugees through the assistance of the United Nations. Each family has their own story of suffering before reaching safety and discovering a community church willing and ready to help them gather and heal together. Upon their arrival these families were in need of prayer and to practice their religion according to their traditional rituals from Iraq.The story of Our Lady of Mesopotamia is a motivation to all Christians wherever they may be so they may continue their religious and spiritual mission to their church by exercising their right to serve God.  The Eastern faith is still alive inside the members of this community and they  continue to encourage their sons and daughters to remain religious and uphold God’s way wherever they may be, regardless of  the surrounding conditions and circumstances.

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Image of Our Lady of Mesopotamia.

The story began when the first Catholic Syriac Antioch Mass was celebrated on August of 2009 in a living room with 5 families; now they have grown to be a community of 85 families.  With the guidance of the Rev. Father Bassim Shoni (Administrator of Our Lady of Mercy in Allentown, PA), the mission has grown over the years, bringing the Iraqi Catholic community together throughout the state of Massachusetts (Springfield, Lynn, Framingham) and New Hampshire to gather once/ twice a month to celebrate the Divine Liturgy together in the Syriac Catholic rite. They gather prior to Mass for a discussion of the scripture and following Mass they sit together to share a meal.

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Fr. Bassim and the children of the community cutting the cake of last year’s celebration.

Fr. Bassim Shoni travels for miles all the way from Pennsylvania to celebrate Mass for the community. He has truly uited the Iraqi Catholic community from the youngest to the oldest, from those who lived in the area for many years to those who have been in the states for just a few weeks. The Divine Liturgy and Bible Study given by Fr. Bassim Shoni has always received very positive feedback. It is very heartening and joyful to everyone as many are able to relive what they had back home and reminisce many fond memories.

As the community celebrates five years of  existence in  our Archdiocese,  they had a lot to thank for. The community members are very thankful to have  a priest by their side especially with all Fr. Bassim has endured by driving long hours to gather with them, offering guidance and helping the Iraqi community and Our Lady of Mesopotamia to grow. Moreover, they have expressed immense gratitude for Fr. Michael Harrington’s guidance and continuous support, and also Fr. Higgins of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish (Newton, MA) who opened his heart and his church to welcome the community.

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Group of members of the Iraqi Community.

 

Please keep the Iraqi community and all of those persecuted in the Middle East in your prayers!

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