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Dominicans Join Fact Finding Mission to Syria

FOREST PARK, IL-- January 7, 2008--From January 11 through 20, Catholic Relief Services will sponsor a group of eight women religious on a trip to visit CRS programs for Iraqi refugees.  The delegation includes Arlene Flaherty, OP, (Blauvelt) of CRS, Toni Harris, OP (Sinsinawa) International Co-Promoter of Justice and Peace and Dusty Farnan, OP (Adrian) North American Co-Promoter of Justice and Peace.

The group of eight will travel to Lebanon and Syria to assess the plight of refugees. The delegation will meet Iraqis at migrant centers and in their temporary homes to learn more about their needs for shelter, health services, and education and most importantly their intense desire to return to their homes in safety.

While in the Middle East, the sisters will meet with humanitarian aid groups and others who are assisting Iraqi refugees, as well as with Christian and Muslim leaders.

“This is really about solidarity,” says Sister Arlene Flaherty,OP, a CRS liaison who organized the delegation. “We want the Iraqi refugees to know that we are aware of their suffering- they have not been forgotten and that we will pledge to bring their plight to visibility among our various constituencies. Upon our return, we will focus on identifying and promoting among our various social justice networks, the kind of advocacy steps that will advance human rights, well being, and hope for the Iraqi refugees.”

“This is the first time CRS has brought a group of American women religious to visit our programs overseas,” says Maureen McCullough, regional director of CRS’ programs in the northeast. “We have an amazing group of women whose ministries serve thousands. I hope this is the first of many collaborations.”

Dusty Farnan, OP (Adrian) said, "We leave on this delegation still in the Christmas Season and aware of the flight of the Holy Family, which so connects us with the plight of the refugees. We count on your prayers and mindfullness of the situation. We began this solidarity in 1999 with the Veritas delegation. and this is another way for us to connect the Dominican Family with our Family and the Christian people of Iraq."

The Delegation

  • Clare Nolan,  RGS, of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, which has Syrian sisters working with Iraqi refugees in Syria
  • Anne Curtis, RSM of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
  • Durstyne Farnan, OP (Adrian North American Promoter of Justice and Peace
  • Simone Campbell, SS, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby in Washington, D.C.
  • Toni  Harris, OP (Sinsinawa) International Co-Promoter of Justice and Peace
  • Carmen Diego, member of Las Hermanas, a network of Hispanic Catholic women
  • Marie Lucey, OSF director at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious
  • Arlene Flaherty, OP (Blauvelt) CRS employee who forms partnerships between religious institutes and CRS’ work overseas

Catholic Relief Services is the official international relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic community. It serves the poor in over 100 countries overseas through programs in emergency relief, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peace building.

The Family of OUR Family in Iraq
Toni Harris reflects on the recent delegation to Syria and Lebanon

Iraqi Refugees: Living in Limbo
Arlene Flaherty, OP assess the situation

video link
Link to a CBS News
Interview with Sr. Arlene on the Refugee Situation

Tonie HarrisLISTEN to a Vatican Radio interview with Sr. Toni Harris
on her impressions of the situation.

Advocacy Points from NETWORK

Dominicans Join Fact Finding Mission to Syria and Lebanon

Iraqis are the third largest and fastest growing refugee population in the world. 


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