The youthful church in Iraq

by Tommaso Bacci

The Lay Centre student community was pleased to host its first intercultural evening of the year on 28 February. It was the first in a series of events that aim to enrich the community through the unique cultural diversity of The Lay Centre.

Two Iraqi students from Ankawa (Erbil), Lina Gelyana and Sana Rofo, both studying for master’s degrees in psychology at the Pontifical Salesian University, organized the inaugural evening. Our Iraqi friends shared a presentation entitled “The Contribution of Young People in the Archdiocese of Erbil”. Since Archbishop Bashar Matti Wardah of Erbil decided to devote energy and resources to youth ministry, Lina and Sana have been heavily involved.

Lina S. Glyana during her presentation

By looking at the Church of Ankawa in the Archdiocese of Erbil, which resembles the shape of a “ziggurat,” it is possible to understand one important characteristic of this Christian population: a strong bond with their land and an enormous historical background.

Ankawa is a majority Christian city and this deeply-rooted and historic Christian community has a vibrant pastoral life, demonstrated through the many services that the youth provide, such as: teaching catechism, hosting Aramaic language classes, organizing youth meetings, such as the “Ankawa Youth Meeting” in 2013, which coincided with World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, running charity activities, welcoming and resettling refugees, and fundraising. For more, here you can watch the incredible effort of the young people of Ankawa, who worked together with their bishop to make the new cathedral available for Christmas night.

Sana Z. Rofo during her presentation

Thanks to Lina and Sana for introducing the community of The Lay Centre to this wonderful ecclesial experience that is the Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil.

Our next intercultural night will be on 14 March. Student resident Christos Delaportas from Greece will speak about Lent in the Greek Orthodox Church.

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