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Rome Reports

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Syrian Religious sister: My vocation is stronger thanks to faith of the people


Aid to the Church in Need campaign “Candles for Peace in Syria,” want to remind everyone, especially this Christmas, that the war in Syria is not over. 

Almost eight years of conflict have left 97,000 amputees, 200,000 missing, 13 million refugees and displaced persons and more than 600,000 dead. It's nearly a decade in which many of the children have known nothing but war.

SR. ANNIE DEMERJIAN
Congregation of Jesus and Mary
“Even the word is very little to express what our children lived through this time.” 

Sr. Annie is a part of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. She was in charge of handing over this candle to Pope Francis. It was lit during the Angelus prayer for peace in Syria.

This craftsman from Damascus prepared it. The photographs on the candle are of children from Aleppo and Damascus. They show some of their experiences during the war. 

SR. ANNIE DEMERJIAN
Congregation of Jesus and Mary
“When we offered the candle, asking him, he was so touched and he said my prayer is constant about Syria.”

The war has transformed the work of many religious people in Syria. Sr. Annie's congregation in Aleppo has helped hundreds of families survive the war. One of the bloodiest battles of the conflict was fought in the city. However, even though she had the possibility of leaving, she has never considered leaving Syria. 

SR. ANNIE DEMERJIAN
Congregation of Jesus and Mary
“It is my home and I don't want to leave my home, my people, my family. If we leave them in this time, what is the meaning of my vocation? Now during the war my vocation has more meaning. It's amazing for me, my vocation becomes strong because of their faith. The way they adapt to the situation and every time we go to visit the only words they say are 'Thanks be to God.' For me, that stayed in my mind, with all these very painful experiences, yet they say 'Thanks be to God.'”

Of the thousands who have fled Syria, many are Christians who could no longer endure the hardships of war. An estimated 800,000 have left, 40 percent of those previously living in the country. Sr. Annie assures that, although the community is decimated, the faith is far from being extinguished. Instead, it is even more alive.

SR. ANNIE DEMERJIAN
Congregation of Jesus and Mary
“Many times when we see the church being hit, we will say 'The next day the church will be empty.' However, its the opposite, the next day the church will be full of people participating in Mass or prayer. This is a good example of hope for us.”

Sr. Annie participated in a meeting in Rome organized by Aid to the Church in Need where she explained how difficult it is to move forward in a Syria torn apart by a war that needs to end as soon as possible.