Posts Tagged ‘daoud’

Professor Shares E-Mails From Father Ragheed

ROME, JUNE 13, 2007 ( ).- “The situation here is worse than hell,” Father Ragheed Ganni wrote to a former professor the day before he and three deacons were shot after Sunday Mass in Mosul, Iraq.

Father Robert Christian, a theology professor at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum, in Rome, spoke at the requiem Mass held in that school on Tuesday. There, Father Ganni had studied theology and ecumenism.

On June 3, Father Ganni and three deacons, Basman Yousef Daoud, Ghasan Bidawid and Wadid Hanna, were killed in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit.

Father Christian began his homily, saying: “On Saturday, June 2, I received an e-mail from Mosul. In part it read: ‘The situation here is worse than hell, and my church has been attacked a few more times since we last met. Last week, two guards in it were wounded after an attack. We shall meet in the near future and have a chat about all these events. God bless, Ragheed.'”

Father Christian continued: “The patriarch of the Chaldeans called them martyrs. And martyrs, who conform closely to the passion and death of Jesus Christ, have been revered since Christian antiquity as saints.”

A hell

Father Christian called a hell that which “those left behind are experiencing: Ragheed’s family and friends; the flock he pastured; his Chaldean Church, other Christians, and yes, Muslims, too, trapped in the senseless vortex of blind hatred and violence that is daily life in Iraq.”

“Ragheed could have fled,” Father Christian continued. “As far as I know, he came to Italy three times after he returned to Mosul upon finishing his licentiate in ecumenism at the Angelicum.

“But Ragheed had a strong sense of his priestly duty to be an icon of the Good Shepherd for his people.”

Father Christian also read a message he received from Father Ganni last October.

It read: “Dear Father Christian, How are you? I’m really happy to get your message, and to know that there are people who still think of and pray for my country.

“The situation, as you can follow in the news, is dreadful. Christians are suffering twice, first because of the situation, second because of their religion.

“The Pope’s speech lit a fire in the city. A Syrian Orthodox priest was beheaded; my parish church was attacked five times. I was threatened even before that priest was kidnapped, but I was very careful about moving around. I postponed my vacation twice because I couldn’t leave the city under such conditions.

“I was planning to travel to Europe on Sept. 18, but I moved it to Oct. 4. Then I had to change the date to Nov. 1.

“Ramadan was a disaster for us in Mosul. Hundreds of Christian families fled outside the city — including my family and uncles. About 30 people left all their properties and fled, having been threatened.

“It is not easy but the grace of the Lord gives support and strength. We face death every day here.”

Courageous witness

These words show, Father Christian said, that Father Ganni “knew he was facing the threat of death for his faith. But he also knew that staying there was his duty, giving courageous witness to our faith in the resurrected Lord.”

The professor continued: “We are used to teaching future leaders of the Church. When we hear about one of our former students becoming a bishop, we rejoice. But having taught a martyr is something else entirely. And sometimes we professors learn from our students.

“The emotions are strong: sadness, pain, anger and the feeling of helplessness.

“However, there is the awareness that we are before a person who was prepared to pay the supreme price; a person who wanted to live and die heroically; a person ready to shed his blood for the life of the faithful. This awareness humbles us.”

Body and blood

Father Christian explained the source of Father Ganni’s fortitude: “The strength of Father Ragheed was the Eucharist, and in his homilies he taught the faithful that the body and blood of Jesus, who was sacrificed and resurrected, strengthened the union among the members of the mystical body of Christ.

“May the Eucharist give us the courage to live and die like Father Ragheed.

“Giving into the temptation of revenge does not honor Father Ragheed, but rather promoting peace, dialogue, and constructing or building a civilization of love.”

On Sunday, another requiem Mass was celebrated by Father Joseph Chedid in the Church of St. Roukoz of the Antonine Maronite order in Lebanon.

In his homily, Father Chedid, an Antonine priest and friend of Father Ragheed, spoke about the “souls of the martyrs whose blood was shed to witness to the word of God.”

He asked the faithful to pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the Iraqi people, and especially for Christians, to remove the “dark clouds hanging over them during the dreadful situation they are experiencing.”


“You Have Been a Good and Faithful Servant”

CITY BEACH, Australia, JUNE 8, 2007 ( Here is a memorial letter sent to ZENIT from a companion of Father Ragheed Ganni. Father Ganni and three deacons were shot and killed in Mosul, Iraq, on Sunday after Mass.

* * *

I studied in Rome as a seminarian for the Archdioceses of Perth, Western Australia, at the Pontifical Irish College, and attended the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas from 1997 to 2001. I am now the rector of Holy Spirit Parish in City Beach, Perth, Western Australia.

Father Ragheed Ganni was the first seminarian that I had met in the college; he was gracious enough to show me to my room.

Though we couldn’t communicate at first through speech because I couldn’t speak Aramaic and Father Ragheed couldn’t speak English yet, throughout our years in the seminary we became good friends.

Father Ragheed had a friendly nature and a warm welcoming simile. He was very prayerful and had a great sense of the sacred, with a deep spirituality and union with God. He was diligent in studies and very much respected by the faculty and his peers of the college. He was always ready to lend a helping hand to those in need, or just to spend time with you for a friendly chat.

He was an extremely intelligent fellow. He was able to speak six languages and was to return to the Irish College next year to commence his doctorate thesis.

Each year Father Ragheed would spend his summers in Ireland working in Lough Derg, which is a place of pilgrimage in the North of Ireland, enabling him to send money home to buy much needed medical supplies. He also did a lot of things behind the scene for Iraqis. He was always putting others first.

I remember one summer Father Ragheed stayed with me in St. Malcay’s Seminary in Belfast. It was around July 12, which is the marching season in the North.

That night there was rioting just outside the gates of the seminary and we could hear gun shots and the screams of the police and ambulance sirens. It was a long night and Father Ragheed spoke about the sufferings and persecution of the Christians living in Iraq.

When war broke out in Iraq, Father Ragheed was devastated, having been away from his family for seven years and now all communication with his homeland was broken. It was months before he could find out if his family was safe. This was an extremely difficult time for him, but through it all, he found consolation in his prayers.

Father Ragheed visited me in Perth 2003 for the summer; it was wonderful to spend that time together in the parish. We spoke about his returning to Iraq and what that might mean.

Father Ragheed was very loyal to his bishop and to the people of his diocese. He was aware of the dangers of returning to Iraq where Christians had been targeted by Muslim extremists. Knowing the risk to his own life, he gladly accepted the challenge of administering the sacraments to his people.

Father Ragheed was like a brother to me, and my heart is sad because the world is a much lonelier place without him.

I remember the times we would spend Christmas in the college when all the other students would return home for the break. We had Rome to ourselves, now it is all yours.

Rest well my friend, for you have been a good and faithful servant, your martyrdom lives on and, I am sure, will encourage other young men to join the ranks of Christ to continue the work of salvation.

Now your eternal priesthood begins, with the whole heavenly court behind you.

I am sure that Father Ragheed and the martyrdom of his companions will bear much fruit bringing about religious freedom, unity and peace to the people of Iraq.

My prayers are with Father Ragheed’s family and the families of his companions; Basman Yousef Daoud, Ghasan Bidawid and Wadid Hanna.

May there be peace in Iraq.

Pax Christi,
Father Don Kettle