EWTN shared her fond memories from Iraq in her blog here. Though her departure was frustrating to our brethren in Kirkuk, she had to leave Kirkuk, a calling she has to endure as a "missionary" moving around the world visiting Catholic communities for interviews, reporting and sharing us her profound faith-filled experiences with Catholics living in the Middle East. She was most loved by our brethren in Kirkuk that seeing her leaving was so frustrating and sad moment for them.
With sister Joan’s daily blog, we can have an experience of the lighter side of Iraq. Frequently depicted in major news were bombings, kidnappings, beheadings, suicide attacks—the horrible side of Iraq. It was through these horrific news that Iraq was likened to a Hell on earth that no man should visit.
Fear and suspicion from suicide attacks and kidnapping of foreign workers by Islamic extremists prompted the Philippine government from barring Filipinos to work or visit any place in Iraq. I think our embassy in Baghdad and our consulates in major cities were suspended after the incident of kidnapping Filipinos in July of 2004. So that Filipino passports are stamped with “Not Valid to Travel to Iraq.’
It was very surprising for me to see the lighter side of Iraq. I often read news from AsiaNews but most of the news was taken from other News Agencies, looking Iraq over a distance.
With sister Joan’s blog, it’s like an Insider’s Report where there’s a real interaction with breathing people. It’s very surprising (and yet so consoling) to see new Iraqi priests being ordained, seminarians and Religious Sisters witnessing the event, for me, they are the real witnesses of our Catholic faith in the Middle East. It’s high tide for Catholics around the world to remember them in a very special way, in our prayers offering Masses for them.
Here is sister Joan’s reply in my previous emails, a treasure I will keep. Thank you for sharing to the World your eyes of faith and your immense love for God, Christ, and the Catholic Church.
17 July 2010
Just a brief line as I am preparing my weekend EWTN radio show, "Vatican Insider" - it's a full day of work but I am interrupting to answer a few emails. Yes, of course, publish my letter on your blog and you can link to my blog as well, if you'd like. How do I find your blog - am sure it is fascinating! if I ever return to Qatar, I will surely look you up!
14 July 2010-07
How wonderful to hear from you! It was exciting to read your letter - I have been to Qatar twice on Vatican business (when I worked for the Vatican) and I visited the Catholic parish there and attended Mass one Pentecost Sunday!!
I have immensely enjoyed my trips to Iraq but have been predominantly in the safer north - in Iraqi Kurdistan - though I did travel to Kirkuk and the diocese - not the city -of Mosul. Bishop Nona is a wonderful and saintly person and I pray many times each day to God to bless him abundantly and protect him and all the Christians of Mosul!!
I am blessed to know such wonderful people, Ernesto. My life is full and rich and I try to share that joy and richness through my writings. More than anything, I want to bring the truth to people. Few knew he truth about Iraq and the plight of Christians until I went there in February and started reporting. Lots of things have happened since then - good things!
May God bless you as well!
Hopefully we can meet some day!