Connecticut Catholics raise awareness of plight of Middle East Christians

20180414T0651 0271 CNS US SYRIA AIRSTRIKE 800A missile is seen crossing over Damascus April 14. The United States, France and Britain launched airstrikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again. (CNS photo/SANA handout via Reuters)HARTFORD — Catholics in the Archdiocese of Hartford are partnering with the Knights of Columbus and area Catholic schools on an initiative to raise money and awareness for Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East who are suffering religious persecution. 

A Catholic Mass to pray for peace, reconciliation and forgiveness in the Middle East, especially in war-torn countries like Iraq and Syria, will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 14, at St. Mary’s Church, 5 Hillhouse Ave. New Haven. Hartford Archbishop Leonard P. Blair will be the main celebrant at the Mass.

Those who will speak at the Mass or at a Q&A and reception that follows include Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Canada Bawai Soro; Andrew Walther, vice president for communications and strategic planning, the Knights of Columbus; and Stephen Rasche,counsel to the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese in Erbil, Iraq.

An archdiocese-wide effort has been underway in recent months throughout the Arhchdiocee of Hartford to generate solidarity with Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

All nine high schools in the archdiocese have made efforts to familiarize students with the genocide and have each adopted a “Sister Town” in the region to keep in their prayers.

The schools have held assemblies on the persecution and the efforts of Middle East Christians to remain in and rebuild in places where Christians have lived since the time of the Apostles.

The Knights of Columbus has provided each school with “solidarity crosses” made in the Middle East that students have sold for $10 donations. All proceeds from the sale of the olive wood crosses will be presented at the Mass and sent to the “Sister Towns” to help in rebuilding efforts.

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