First Mass Held in Telskuf, Nineveh Since Christians Were Forced Out by ISIS

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Refugees re-open abandoned church to celebrate Eucharist.
Telskuf, Nineveh Province, Iraq – Months after its closure, the Saint Georges Chaldean church in Telskuf has come back to life with the celebration of the Eucharist last Sunday with a number of the area’s young men. Telskuf is located in the Nineveh province which is an area that is being heavily contested for by the Peshmerga and ISIS.

Father Paulus Thabit Makku, a Chaldean priest in Mosul said to Fides News that, “we celebrated the Eucharist this Sunday in one of Nineveh province’s villages — the first time since the locals were forced out last August by ISIS jihadists.”

The village of Telskuf is a small Christian town in the Nineveh province, which the Peshmerga reclaimed from ISIS. However, the village of Tall Kayf, located 15 kilometers from Telskuf is still under ISIS control. This is a Christian village that borders an area where there is still fighting and under ISIS control. It still sits abandoned after its people were forced out last August. Some Christian refugees — all of them young men — wanted to return to Iraqi Kurdistan. So they accompanied the priest and went to the town to ring the church’s bell. They opened the church and then celebrated the Eucharist, if only for a few hours. After the mass they headed back to the north where they are currently living as refugees.

Their undertaking held symbolic value according to Father Paulus, who is now living as a refugee in the town of Ankawa, a town with a Christian majority. He stated that, “It was a way for us to express that we will not leave our land. We live in hope that we will soon return to our homes, villages and churches.”

Translated by Donald Puhlman from an article that was originally published in Aleteia’s Arabic edition.