Term begins at Iraq’s only Catholic seminary

ashor11.jpgA special Liturgy marked the start of the new academic year at Babel Catholic College of Theology in Ankawa, the only Catholic college for theology in Iraq run by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans. Babel College is affiliated with the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.

The Eucharistic Celebration, presided by the rector Mgr Jacques Isaac, in the presence of Padre Rayan Atto, parish priest at Mar Qardagh, in Erbil, was held at Mar Eliya church, in Ankawa, a town in northern Iraq where the college was moved from Baghdad because of insecurity in the southern Dora of the capital. Also present Chaldean priests from Ankawa, and from d Al Qosh, accompanied by the Bishop Mikha P. Maqdassi, some monks and nuns, representatives of the Kurd Regional government in whose territory Ankawa is situated, Fr Jibrail, Superior General of the local community of Chaldean monks and leading civil society members.

“We need optimism and courage”, to carry on didactic activities said Mgr Isaac, according to the Chaldean Catholic news bulletin Baghdadhope. “I am optimistic – he said – for the role Babel College has had and will continue to have to form Iraqi clergy. Our task as an ecclesiastical institution is to form Christ’s witnesses. This is why I encourage all the bishops to take advantage of Babel College, its teachers and the cultural contribution it offers “.

The guests visited the building site of a new wing. The three floor building will host the Aula Magna, four lecture rooms and the library. “We have 6,000 volumes, a good number, but nothing compared to the number still in the College library in Baghdad”, the rector said. “However we cannot get them because the college, the seminary and the convent Dora cannot be reached. The area is extremely dangerous and all three buildings are occupied by American troops which have made it their headquarters in the city district”.

Courses will also resume at the Institute for Religious Sciences, interrupted last year because of difficulties connected with the transferral of the college. The Institute offers a three year course for Catechists and any lay people who wish to deepen their knowledge of the faith. “I was able to announce that the Institute will resume courses in Baghdad too at Mar Ghorghis church”, said Mgr. Isaac, “a sign that despite the difficulties, the Church continues to walk with faith and courage”.

Mgr Jacques Isaac rector of Babel College and the Institute for Religious Sciences but since he lives in Baghdad, he has collaborators in Ankawa to whom he entrusts the management of the institutions when he is in the capital. Fr Salem Saha and Fr Fadi Lion are the vice rectors of the College; Fr Fadi Lion is vice rector of the Institute and Fr Rayan Atto is director of studies.

Source: Fides

© Independent Catholic News 2007