From a town of just over 900 people, a Knights of Columbus council and its 162 members hope to have a big impact halfway around the world. They are supporting an effort to help Christians in Syria and Iraq who were driven from their homes by terrorism, genocide and war.
Titled “Rebuilding the Cradle of Christianity,” the initiative is the local version of a national Knights of Columbus effort to help Christians who fled to escape the terrorist group Islamic State and the devastation of their towns, with many now living in other countries or in refugee camps.
This will allow residents to return and rebuild their lives, said Mike Conrad, a supreme director on the national board and a member of the parish who is co-coordinator of the local effort.
Karamdes, southeast of Mosul, fell to ISIS as it advanced across northern Iraq in August 2014. The town was liberated in late 2016, and residents have gradually been returning.
But of the town’s nearly 800 homes, 464 were burned, 97 were destroyed by bombs and the rest were damaged or vandalized, according to a report by Open Doors, an international ministry serving persecuted Christians and churches around the world. Churches and sacred images also were destroyed or vandalized.
As part of their efforts, the Fort Calhoun Knights planned two fundraising events in Omaha March 9 and 10 featuring Syriac Catholic Bishop Barnaba Yousif Habash, along with Gabriel Jabbour, a Syrian refugee, and his daughter and translator Rula Jabbour.
Habash praised relief efforts by the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Relief Services in particular and other nonprofit Christian and other organizations.
Despite their hardships, the people have “a vibrant faith,” he said. “It is as if they say we are ready to lose everything - house, property, possessions, money, everything - but nobody can take the unique pride we have, which is our Christian faith,” he added.
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Reported by Catholic News Service