Priests in Syria are appealing for prayers following last Thursday’s abduction of a abbot and his friend.
Fr Jacques Mourad was kidnapped on May 21 while riding to the monastery of Mar Elian in Qaryatayn, which is only 65 miles from ISIS-controlled Palmyra. The identity of his kidnappers remains unclear, and some reports stated that another priest was also taken.
Fr Mourad is abbot of the Syriac-Catholic monastic community in Mar Musa, which is between Damascus and Homs, but had been working with displaced people at Mar Elian, further east.
Fr Jihad Youssef, from the same community, urged people to pray for the victims and said: “Armed masked men took both of them away. We don’t know who it was and where our brothers are at this moment. We’re totally in the dark.”
He also paid tribute to Fr Mourad’s dedication to the people suffering from the Syrian war, and said he had a particular interest in in renovation projects.
“Fr Jacques made no distinction between Christians or Muslims,” he said: “He helped anyone in distress. The psychological care of people in the war and other emergency humanitarian aid were also important to him. For years he had cared for war refugees.”
Fr Mourad had recently been in contact with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, who are supporting the work to help displaced Syrians at the monastery of Mar Elian, where the abducted priest worked to help the displaced.
After more than £71,000 was raised by the charity towards the monastery, Fr Mourad had recently told them in an email: “The situation of these families is hard considering the fact that they were obliged out of the surrounding danger to leave their houses without bringing away any kind of the essential needs.
“Poverty is expanding as there are no possibilities of work. All kinds of work stopped and even the wages of the employees are not enough to live in a good way.”
Fr Mourad’s monastery provides children with clothes and presents, especially on feast days, with the aim of keeping hope alive during this time of war.
More details can be found on www.acnuk.org.