ASIA/IRAQ - A Mass celebrated again in the Nineveh Plain

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Tel Isqof (Agenzia Fides) - The Chaldean church of St. George in the village of Tel Isqof, in an area of the Nineveh Plain disputed between jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) and Pershmerga Kurdish troops, was reopened after months of neglect: on Sunday November 9 a priest celebrated the liturgy of the Eucharist, in front of a group of young people. This was confirmed to Agenzia Fides by the Chaldean priest in Mosul, Paul Thabit Mekko. "Last Sunday’s mass - says Fr. Paul – was the first mass celebrated in a church in those villages in the Nineveh Plain abandoned by the Christian population in early August, before the advance of the militiamen of IS".
Tel Isqof, north of Mosul, one of the few villages in the Plain is currently back under the control of the Peshmerga, after the militia of the IS were rejected. Tilkaif is just 15 kilometers away and is still in the hands of the jihadists. These villages were largely deserted after the mass exodus in August, in an area crossed by the front line. "A group of young men, now refugees in Kurdistan, wanted to go there with a priest for a few hours, with the intent to open the church, ring the bells and celebrate mass. After the liturgy they returned to the north, in places where they are currently living as refugees. "The initiative also had a symbolic value: "It was a way of saying that we do not abandon our lands, and we hope to return to our homes and our churches soon" repeated Fr. Paul, who is also a refugee in Ankawa, a predominantly Christian district of Erbil. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 11/11/2014)