Denver, Colo., Nov 21, 2013 / 05:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, a Lebanese-born nun who has lived nearly 20 years in Syria, is travelling the U.S. advocating for peace and reflecting on how the conflict has affected life in the region.
It is “terribly, tremendously” difficult to be living away from her community in Syria, she reflected Nov. 17.
“We have a very, very familiar way of communitarian life, and our community is in need, it’s a new community. We were founded in 2000, so they need their superior, they need their mother. But the Lord has supplied: they are like heroes; I consider this community to be heroes.”
Mother Agnes is the superior of St. James the Mutilated monastery in Qarah, located 60 miles north of Damascus on the road to Homs.
Qarah, which was captured by the Syrian regime two days after Mother Agnes spoke with CNA, had been under the control of the Free Syrian Army, a moderate rebel group, for over a year.
The monastery is home to 20 nuns of the Unity of Antioch, and is also sheltering 32 Sunni refugees from al-Qusayr, she told CNA. Because of the violent unrest in the area, she cannot return to the monastery.
“They are trapped,” she said. “They cannot go out and I cannot come in, because all over this region we have bandits and undisciplined elements. So they cannot go out and I cannot come in, until the situation is better.”
Before the war, she explained, “we had 25,000 visitors” annually for spiritual retreats and other events. “We were building a new youth hostel to receive pilgrims, and it was our income; we had also a store, to sell what we produce – icons, garments, hand crafts, also agricultural products. All of this has stopped, so we have no income at all.”
During a talk she gave at St. Rafka Maronite parish in Denver, Colo., Mother Agnes explained that the Free Syrian Army “reported to us one night in June there was a plot to abduct me … it is the FSA who protected me, and put me outside” the city.
Islamists rebels, such as al-Nusra Front, had infiltrated the area, and were planning her abduction, she said, noting that the armed opposition “is not one faction.”
Because the FSA has not given her “the green light to come back,” she is unable to return to the monastery, and (Read More)