UP Catholic 03 10 2017 E Edition Page 7

BY DALE GAVLAK CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE Working with displaced Iraqi Christians has stretched and strengthened the faith of a priest who came to Jordan as a refugee. Father Khalil Jaar said the Iraqi Christians, who escaped the Islamic State invasion for initial sanctuary in Jordan until they find a permanent home, have become like family for him. Some of them, even live on the com- pound of his parish, Our Lady Mother of the Church, in the crowded suburb of the Jordani- an capital, Amman. I told Pope Francis that I am a privileged priest because, for me, these refugees are the saints of the 21st century, said Father Jaar. Some Iraqi Christians helped by Father Jaar told him that despite gains by the U.S.-led coalition pushing Islamic States militants from their villages and Mosul, they cannot think of returning home and are tired of repeatedly rebuilding their lives. They went from Baghdad to Alqosh and other places inside Iraq they thought were safe. Then they were forced to escape to Irbil and from there to Jordan, he said. Now, as they are asked to return to Iraq, the priest said: They have lost all hope of coop- erating with their people. They are looking for a new life, both for themselves and their children. Over two years ago, concerned for the ref- ugee childrens future and education, Father Jaar set up a school with a recognized curric- ulum on the church compound. It current- ly educates more than 200 refugee pupils, providing a meal, uniforms, books as well as food coupons to families who have used up the last of their funds as their displacement drags on. Christian formation and English language instruction are provided. A number of the teachers and other staffare Iraqi Christian refugees. But, the loss of a major donor due to unfore- seen circumstances recently put the future of the school in jeopardy. The school requires about $25,000 to 30,000 per month to oper- ate. We are looking to the Lord for help. I trust him. Some weeks ago, I discussed the pos- sibility of having to close the school with its principal, Sanaa Bekki. I told her please give me two days to pray, Father Jaar said. Then we received a short email from a friend saying: Father, go ahead for this month, I will provide for January. The Lord sent us the exact amount of mon- ey needed to protect this school for this month and not a penny extra. He wants us to keep our faith in providence, the priest said, acknowl- edging that his faith, too, is being stretched and strengthened serving the refugees. Father Jaar said he often says of the Iraqi refugees, Happy is the country which will receive these people because they are very well qualified and educated. Recognizing Father Jaars work, Pope Francis has commissioned him to travel to other countries to share stories of the plight of Christians caught in the crosshairs of Mideast conflicts and Islamist extremists with a call to stand beside the Christians and provide help in their hour of need. A priest of Palestinian origin, Father Jaar said he and his family, too, were once refugees from Bethlehem. The priest recounted a recent visit by the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patri- archate of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa. The archbishop spent two hours with us, said Father Jaar. He told me, Father carry on. This is the work of the church. And thats exactly why we do what we do and go ahead. www.upcatholic.org THE U.P. CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS March 10, 2017 7 Working with refugees stretches, strengthens priest's faith DALE GAVLAK CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE Father Khalil Jaar distributes hygiene packs to Iraqi Chris- tian refugees sheltering at his church compound Jan. 8 in Marka, Jordan. Growing to serve you in 5 locations! MANISTIQUE, MI 735 E. Lakeshore Dr. Food for Le$$ 200 Deer Street MARINETTE, WI 1507 Cleveland Ave. 2301 Roosevelt Rd. MENOMINEE, MI M & M Plaza Senior Citizens Retreat May 9 - 11 Triduum Retreat April 13 - 16 An opportunity to enter contemplatively into the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The cost of this retreat will be a free will offering. Our Senior Citizens retreat emphasizes the value of age and wisdom, often not appreciated in society today. This retreat is open to both singles and couples. Director: Fr. Corbin Eddy Cost: $90.00 for single, $160.00 for a married couple

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