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Walk a spiritual path with the Visitandine Founders, Saints and Sisters. Visitation Spirit website
Free others from today's forms of captivity. Become a Mercedarian friar. Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy Philadelphia, PA
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Order of Mercy Pledges to Help Iraq’s Persecuted Christians

Amidst the glistening skyscrapers and plush resorts of the city of Erbil in northern Iraq lies a hidden tragedy. Tens of thousands of displaced Christian refugees stream into the area, seeking shelter from the brutal hands of ISIS militias.

Most Rev. Mashar Warda, second from right, speaks to the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy members in Rome.

Most Rev. Mashar Warda, second from right, speaks to the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy members in Rome.

The sad story of homeless evacuees, almost completely ignored by Western media, is a replay of the same tragedy played out over the centuries, in which Christians and those of other religions were forced at the hands of Muslim extremists to either give up their faith or accept slavery or death itself.

In an attempt to offer help, a Catholic religious order, founded centuries ago to redeem such captives, has stepped in to ease the pain of the suffering Christians. The Order of Mercy, with members in the United States, has twinned with the Archdiocese of Erbil as an attempt to offer hope, healing and material support to those persecuted.

The 1.2 million Christians in Iraq have been reduced to 300,000 over about ten years because of the persecution, according to the official announcement of the Order of Mercy, known formally as the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy.

Against a backdrop of a land rich in history, including Abraham’s journey from his homeland in Ur, the Most Rev. Mashar Warda, Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, accepted an invitation to meet with the Order of Mercy. The Order was meeting in Rome recently as part of its official chapter meeting.

“There is a real sale of Christian slaves, especially women and children, that they take to sell in markets,” Archbishop Warda said. “The Christians that do not flee must either convert to Islam, or pay a heavy tax. Many times, however, they are killed.”

Archbishop Warda spoke at the Order of Mercy’s recent chapter, or official meeting of the order. The announcement said that Archbishop Warda’s story “very clearly provoked” the group. “The Christians of Iraq are fleeing because of the continual persecution.”

Most Rev. Warda asked the Mercedarians for:

  •  Prayer above all else
  •  The spread of information to others about these dire circumstances
  •  Economic support
  •  Support of the social and educational services of the archdiocese

The Diocese of Erbil is now welcoming thousands of families fleeing persecution. The Roman Province of the Mercedarians has officially adopted the Archdiocese of Erbil and has donated several thousand euro, and is now praying for the diocese.

A friar from each of the order’s countries – Italy, United States, and India – will be appointed to go on a fact-finding mission to Iraq to find ways the Order can help.

Most Rev. Warda asked that the Mercedarians:

  •  Let others know of this need and tragedy through the mass media
  •  Join with Christians in Iraq through their prayers, Masses and rosaries
  •  Sacrifice or fast from something important to share in the solidarity with those suffering

The Archbishop also asked for help in starting a Catholic university, which he called the Catholic University of Erbil. He asked first of all for teachers who could teach English.

The Order of Mercy has officially adopted the Archdiocese of Erbil and will assist them in helping the persecuted Christians.

The Order of Mercy has officially adopted the Archdiocese of Erbil and will assist them in helping the persecuted Christians.

He explained that as Christianity in the Middle East, and in Iraq in particular, is experiencing a critical stage in its history that threatens its very existence, the Catholic University of Erbil should serve as a contribution to save what culture can be saved. It would also preserve the identity of its civilization and its rich culture and heritage. This includes a people that founded ancient civilizations that once flourished in Mesopotamia and in the East in general, and offered the world its first alphabet, script, the wheel, school, literature and music.

The culture also served for centuries as a bridge to the East for transferring Greek philosophy as well as science and knowledge in general. Also, these people carried the Good News to Mesopotamia and to other lands and the heart of the East, as far as India and China.

The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, founded in 1215 by St. Peter Nolasco, is an international community of priests and brothers who live a life of prayer and communal fraternity. In addition to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, their members take a special fourth vow to give up their own selves for others whose faith is in danger. Their motto is “my life for your freedom.”

In the United States they are present in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Florida. Read about their charism at Visit their Facebook page at

He understands that he is giving up his life for the rest of his life

Today of course is Father’s Day. Yes, this is the day we buy Daddy a tie and get him a card and tell him he is the world’s greatest
Dad. Ok. That’s fine. That’s cute. But maybe—if we have been paying attention—we might see that father’s today need more than a tie and a card. Maybe our fathers need encouragement and prayers and a fresh take on things—just so they can be better fathers—strong and good—in a society that would rather not have them at all. Maybe we can use this as a day in which we and our fathers can confront head-on the challenges of Fatherhood in the modern world. And for those of us who are not fathers—we can us this day to encourage a good and strong and holy fatherhood in our husbands or brothers or uncles or cousins or friends.

We can ask ourselves: Have we helped the fathers among us or hurt them in the fulfillment of their responsibilities—either by things we said or didn’t say? Or by things we ignored and paid no attention to—but perhaps should have? Yes, there are a lot of less than perfect family situations out there. But that only means that we can do something about those situations and start fresh—and maybe today! And any priest can help you get started to make your situation better—just give us a call. Continue reading He understands that he is giving up his life for the rest of his life

When others fall, why do we feel a secret joy?

Feast of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, July 21

Deacon Robert Banet

I’ve been praying the psalms and sometimes they really baffle me.


Yes. One of them says, “His prosperity stirred my grief.” I couldn’t get my head around that.

Ah. Well it’s referring to something we don’t like to think about. I’s the feeling that some people have, a feeling of joy when something bad happens to somebody else.

That’s terrible.

I agree. And that’s not the worst of it. It also means when somebody else has trouble, you take some pleasure in it.
That’s just as bad. Or worse. Continue reading When others fall, why do we feel a secret joy?