2 Adrian Dominicans to go to Iraq this month

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By Daily Telegram staff
ADRIAN — Two Adrian Dominican sisters are part of a three-member delegation going to visit a related congregation in Iraq.
Sisters Rose Ann Schlitt and Nancy Jurecki will visit the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Iraq Nov. 14-25, according to a news release. Also in the delegation is Gloria Escalona, a member of the St. Albert the Great Chapter of Dominican Laity in Oakland, California.

The three Dominican women will represent the U.S. Dominican family of sisters, associates and friars in extending their solidarity and friendship with the Dominican Sisters of Iraq. In August 2014, the Dominican Sisters fled their convents in the Nineveh Plain of Iraq as the Islamic State advanced. As internally displaced persons in Northern Iraq, the sisters established schools and a clinic to serve the needs of the Christians and other minority groups who were in exile with them.

The sisters returned to their hometown about a year ago to find it demolished. They face extreme challenges as they struggle to rebuild their lives.

While in Iraq, the U.S. Dominican women will visit with the Iraqi Dominican Sisters to learn about the status of their schools and other ministries and plans for supporting thousands of families displaced by ISIS in 2014.

“My hopes center upon our sisters who have undergone immense trials and humiliation as they were violently uprooted from their homes, towns, and ministries by ISIS,” Schlitt said in the release. She has ministered in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Nicaragua and the Philippines. “Now, some have been able to return and literally try to pick up the pieces of their daily lives, convents and ministries. … Although I am unable to fully understand the depth of their suffering and loss, I will try to be fully and lovingly present to them and to express our solidarity with them in their present and future challenges.”

Jurecki, chief mission officer for Providence St. Joseph Health in southern California, volunteered to be part of the delegation because of her connections to Iraq. These include her nephew’s service during the U.S. incursion that began in 2003 and her own personal relationship with a sister from Iraq, with whom she had lived.

“Now, as much as ever, I desire to hear the stories and share the pain of remnant Christian families who are replanting their lives in the land where the Bible began,” she said in the release. “In a sense, I will be fulfilling a desire and bearing witness to a unity that guns cannot destroy.”

Escalona, a semiretired doctor of nursing practice, volunteers as a health care provider in homeless shelters, hospitals and nursing homes in the San Francisco Bay area. She was part of a delegation to Iraq in 2001, connecting with the Dominican laity, a large and active group in Iraq who taught catechism to Christian children and led Bible studies. “That trip was life-changing,” she said. “While traveling around the country was relatively safe, I could sense an impending conflict and more suffering for the people and wondered what I could do.”

The sisters of the Congregation of St. Catherine have had close ties with the Dominican family in the United States, the release said. Several U.S. Dominican congregations, including the Adrian Dominican Sisters, sponsored younger sisters to live and study in the United States, strengthening the bonds among Dominicans from the two nations. Sisters from many of the 19 U.S. Dominican congregations have written letters of support, translated into Arabic, which will be delivered by the members of the delegation.