St Marys Church Homs
St. Mary’s Church in Homs before the war
St Mary’s Church in Dair Al-Zor, Syria
St. Thomas Church in Ras Al-Ayn
A mosque nearby Ras Al-Ayn
Burnt office in Qatf Al-Zahour Private School in Ras Al-Ayn
Qatf Al-Zahour Private School in Ras Al-Ayn
Food basket Project
Archbishop Matta Roham leading Peace Prayer Service in Hassake
Arabs attending Prayers at our St. George Cathedral in Hassake
Kurds attending Prayers for peace at our St. George Cathedral in Hassake
Shops damaged in Ras Al-Ayn
Archbishop Eustathius Matta Roham
OCP News Service- Exclusive
Archbishop Eusthathius Matta Roham of the Syrian Orthodox Church explains the sad plight of Christians in different parts of Syria, destruction of Churches, schools, Mosques as well as the welfare activities run by the Syrian Orthodox Church to help people in distress.
Peace and greetings to you in Christ our Lord and Redeemer. As Christendom in many parts of the world is celebrating the Nativity of our Lord and the New Year, I am hopeful that Christ will never forget the people of Syria and all humanity to bring them peace and justice. It is my pleasure to wish you on these two holy occasions, a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year.
The present situation in our area is very difficult and our future is vague. People fear that the fighting in most parts of Syria might move one day to our area, and it will bring to us death and destruction. This feeling has become very close to reality, especially when fighters moved to the little town of Ras Al-Ayn on 9th November 2012. Ras al-Ayn is located on the Turkish border and is one hour drive from our Archdiocese Headquarters in Hassake. This town used to be a very peaceful town, but is now a town of death. On 10th December 2012, I arranged a visit for Father Touma Qas Ibrahim to Ras Al-Ayn to make a check up on his Church of St. Thomas and other churches in town. The attached photos give you an idea about the empty damaged town.
People have lived in peace for many years in Jazirah, the Syrian part of historical Mesopotamia. The Church has put a great effort to create harmony among all communities, especially among Arabs and Kurds. On 5th December 2012, the Christian clergymen conducted ecumenical prayers for peace at Syrian Orthodox Cathedral of St. George in Hassake, and invited both Arabs and Kurds to attend the prayer service and delivered massages of peace to people. This was a very important event for us to achieve, because both Arabs and Kurds did not meet together since the trouble began in March 2011.
The region of Jazirah has received a large number of displaced families, who came to live in the towns of Hassake and Kamishly. These two towns have become now a safe haven for tens of thousands of families, who ran away from the areas of fighting. The population of people in both Hassake and Kamishly has almost doubled. We pray that these two towns stay away from the conflict in order to avoid a definite human catastrophe.
Indeed, it is pitty to see the war in Syria is still going on, and more prices for death, destruction, misery and pain are paid by the innocent people. The local and international absence of the spirit of reconciliation has brought the country to such a chaos situation. The Church in Syria, like all other communities, has suffered so much of this ungodly war.
In addition to all these tough difficulties, people endure many other problems like: inflation, poverty, growing of sectarian enmity, revenge, shortage of supplies in kind of food and fuel, very cold weather, kidnapping of children, men and elderly persons for big amount of ransom, refugee immigration, more than 12 hours electricity cut, risks of traveling, frequent internet cut off and manyother difficulties in day to day life.
Syrian Orthodox church has initiated activities for peace, charity to the poor and the damages made to our churches in Dair Al-Zor, Ras Al-Ayne and Homs. The images of destruction bleed the heart of humanity.
Asking your prayers for peace in Syria, I wish you success and prosperity.
Yours in Christ
Eustathius Matta Roham
Metropolitan of Jazirah & Euphrates
Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch
OCP News Service