In 2015, the 500th anniversary of St. Teresa of Avila was celebrated. That same year, Fr. Jacques Mourad was abducted for 84 days by the Islamic State in Raqqa, the capital of the self-proclaimed Caliphate. During his captivity, this Syrian priest found consolation in the words of the Spanish saint.
Fr. Jacques Mourad, Syro-Catholic Priest: “One night during the abduction I was trying to sleep. I was angry, desperate … I woke up singing “nothing troubles you, nothing scares you” in Arabic. So spontaneously – I do not know how. I did not understand anything at the time, but then I experienced a comfort and a peace inside me that made me forget I was in that prison.”
Each day during his captivity he thought it would be his last of life. He was held in inhumane conditions, along with 250 Christians from his parish of Qaryatayn in Syria. However, he says that despite fear, he experienced God at his side more than ever.
Fr. Jacques Mourad, Syro-Catholic Priest: “That was the miracle; that in the hardest and darkest moments, those with noise, as St. Teresa says, God is still present. I remember that from the first moment the jihadists entered the monastery and kidnapped me, when they put me in the car and took me to the desert, I clearly felt the presence of the Virgin Mary at my side.”
Despite what he experienced, he says there are signs of hope on the horizon. His monastery at Mar Elian was an open house until the jihadists blew it up to eliminate any signs of Christianity. However, the most valuable object managed to survive the bombs.
Fr. Jacques Mourad, Syro-Catholic Priest: “I discovered from a photograph that the relics the monastery guarded are intact. It was a huge surprise. FLASH Knowing that the relics have not disappeared has given me much courage and hope that one day I will be able to return, God willing. Everyone together back to my parish that has lost everything and whose houses have been destroyed. To rebuild our village, the monastery and be a source of protection, comfort, courage and a witness of faith, coexistence and collaboration between Muslims and Christians in the region.”
Fr. Mourad has not yet been able to return to Syria. He lives in Iraqi Kurdistan waiting to return and rebuild what acts of hatred took from him.
Fr. Jacques Mourad, Syro-Catholic Priest: “Evil will never win. Evil will end some day. The war is going to end and will end. We always live with that hope.”
In order to accomplish this, there must be action. The priest asked Christians from the Western world not to turn a blind eye to the suffering of Syrians or close their doors to those who are fleeing from bombs. He calls for rulers to be honest, more humane and compassionate in order to stop this war, that for six years has been targeting Christianity.