ASIA/SYRIA - "For the love of Jesus and for the savior of Muslims". Archbishop Jacques Mourad recounts Father Dall'Oglio's missionary heart, 10 years from his disappearance

Tuesday, 1 August 2023 middle east   oriental churches   area crisis   monasticism   mission   islam  

Rome (Fides News Agency) - «This is our biggest cross to bear: having committed ourselves to perfection, as we drag our shortcomings throughout the days». With these evocative words Jacques Mourad, a Syriac monk from the Deir Mar Musa community, now Archbishop of Homs, Syria, opened his powerful speech from the altar of the Roman church of St. Ignatius in Campo Marzio, at the end of the liturgy celebrated 10 years from the disappearance of Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, a Roman Jesuit, founder of the monastic community of Deir Mar Musa, kidnapped by unknown abductors while in Raqqa which, at the time, was the Syrian stronghold for jihadi militia with the Islamic State (Daesh). The liturgy, celebrated on the evening of Saturday July 29 and presided by the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, saw the participation, among others, of Father Paolo's relatives - including his 3 brothers and 4 sisters -, the monks and nuns of the Deir Mar Musa community in al-Nabek and friends «from Syria, from Europe and from every which place».

Paolo Dall'Oglio had gone to Raqqa to fulfill what he himself had defined as Father Paolo's decision to go to Raqqa - said Archbishop Jacques among other things, recalling, with the incomparable words of a brother and spiritual son, the Christian heart of the missing Jesuit who disappeared in a war-ravaged Syria, and the inner root of his actions «wasn't just a free personal choice, but the fulfillment of an order from God, obedience to God. Father Paolo travelled to Raqqa to reach the objective to which God had called him, for the love of his Lord and master Jesus Christ for the savior of Muslims». The Roman Jesuit who vanished in Raqqa «was aware of his destiny and constantly reiterated his willingness, as if it were a prophecy, following the example of our master and God Jesus, to offer himself up directly to the Islamic world».

Father Paolo - Bishop Jacques Mourad went on, mentioning the nature of his mysterious disappearance «he chose to be badal, a 'substitute for many'. The icon of offering oneself to others is fundamental to the faith and calling of the Church, and so it shall be until Christ's second coming».

Through the liturgy which in Rome gathered Paolo Dall'Oglio's friends and family 10 years since his vanishing - Archbishop Mourad underlined in his speech, «we express our following of Father Paolo, witness to the truth of Jesus Christ. Paolo, Jacques Mourad continued «is a witness not just before Christians, but different nations as well, ideological and national belonging, Muslims in particular. Wherever he may be, what will bring Fr Paolo joy is the unity of our positions as Christians and Muslims, eastern and western Christians, Arabs and Europeans, and those Muslims present in solidarity with us». Furthermore - the Archbishop of Syriac Catholic Homs wished to reiterate - «Our Syriac church is proud that father Paolo chose to be one of its ministers, that in his discernment he chose the smallest church and the one closest to the people in the expression of their faith and traditions. In its founder, our monastic community has an example and a blessing for all its members, as well as for our eparchy of Homs, Hama, al-Nabek and the territory of Syriac Catholics».

In the final part of his speech, Archbishop Mourad remarked that the «Divine Sacrifice» offered in the Roman church of St. Ignatius was celebrated «on the 10th anniversary of our father Paolo's disappearance, to renew our love for him, and through him, for Christ. Our prayers go out to him, may he intercede along with his Jesuit brother in martyrdom Father Frans van der Locht and all the Church's true martyrs. I'm also for what's happening thanks to Pope Francis's bold initiatives on the path of brotherhood with Muslims».
(GV) (Fides News Agency 1/8/2023).