At the end of the second week of Advent, WCC staff gathered in the Chapel of the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva for a special midday prayer for peace in Syria and the Middle East led by Father Jack (Yaqoub) Mourad, head of the Syriac Catholic Monastery of Saint Elian in al-Qaryatayn.
In the prayer, Mourad, from the Community of Mar Moussa, shared his reflection. An armed group with ties to ISIS abducted Mourad from his residence on 21 May 2015 and took him and his companions to the city of Raqqa, which the terrorist organization had adopted as its headquarters in Syria.
“Our call should be a dialogue with our Muslim neighbour,” said Mourad as the main lesson from his experience. Mourad was kidnaped from his monastery in Syria by jihadists from ISIS and escaped with the help and sacrifice of a young Muslim.
During this time, Mourad was subjected to psychological pressure. After months of captivity, he escaped from the city with a Muslim friend on a motorcycle. He is now living in Italy.
Photo: Grégoire de Fombelle/WCC
Hymns and prayers from different traditions were proclaimed as calls for peace in Syria and the Middle East and healing for the people who are suffering from the conflict.
The people gathered in the chapel of the Ecumenical Centre invocated God as the Prince of Peace: “Lord, we pray for peace for those who live in towns and villages torn apart by conflicts in Syria and the Middle East; peace for those who weep in silence in refugee camps and prisons; peace when all hope seems to disappear.”
With songs and readings in Arabic, the staff accompanied Mourad who, in prayer, invited everyone to be “instruments of peace on this earth.” He concluded by singing the Lord’s Prayer in Syriac.