Interfaith prayer service shows solidarity with Syria

                                                                                                                                                            PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS REFUGEE CHILDREN and families who have been forced out of their Syrian homes by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) must turn to nations like the U.S. for protection and shelter. The University has taken steps to raise awareness of the situation and present students with ways to respond. The interfaith prayer service emphasized the importance of addressing the crisis in unity Thursday.

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / REFUGEE CHILDREN and families who have been forced out of their Syrian homes by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) must turn to nations like the U.S. for protection and shelter. The University has taken steps to raise awareness of the situation and present students with ways to respond. The interfaith prayer service emphasized the importance of addressing the crisis in unity Thursday.

Published: November 6, 2015

MICHAEL MAZZUCA
Staff Writer

The University hosted an interfaith prayer service Thursday as part of a series of forums, faith-based services and advocacy opportunities in response to the Syrian and global refugee crisis.

Syria has endured four and a half years of conflict and the situation seems to be getting more complicated every year.

Within the county, loyalists to President Bashar Al-Assad, rebel groups, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Kurdish groups and tribes are fighting each other. Countries like The United States, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar have sent care packages into Syria or attacked the country using air strikes according to TIME.com

According to bbc.com, the United Nations, which has been tracking the civil war since March 2011, estimates up to 250,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

In Scranton, The University community is making efforts to raise awareness and understanding of what is happening in Syria.

The Rev. Malloy, S.J., is following the news.

“A couple weeks ago, The New York Times… you could see Homs, Aleppo, Damascus all these places… you could see them five years ago, there’s building(s), a soccer field.. now it’s all rubble,” Malloy said.

“It’s the same shot five years later. The whole world over there has been torn apart.”

President Kevin Quinn S.J. was contacted to start a commission that would inform and inspire.

The social justice initiative is called In Solidarity with Syria and the interfaith prayer service is among the first events organized.

In Solidarity with Syria is a program collaborated through four offices: the offices of Campus Ministries, Community and Government Relations, Scranton’s CRS Student Ambassador and Education for Justice. The team is comprised of University faculty and students.

Executive Director of Campus Ministries, Helen Wolf, Ph.D. is excited over the support she has seen on campus.

“Students are already coming to us saying we want be part of this… we want to be a part of the solution,” Wolf said.

Junior Farrah Quadri, a Muslim student, is a member of the In Solidarity with Syria commission. She feels linked to support Syrian residents and refugees because the country is a Muslim nation.

“I was always skeptical (that we could make a difference)… but simple things like making welcoming baskets for arriving refugee families or spreading awareness on campus makes you feel like you’re responding to the crisis and you’re not just being there sitting idle,” Quadri said.

Gift baskets and welcoming families is part of what In Solidarity with Syria will be doing this month.
Malloy described the three underlying objectives for In Solidarity with Syria. The commission will educate the University about the ongoing struggles faced by Syrians and other refugees of war.

In Solidarity With Syria is reaching out to Catholic services such as the Diocese of Scranton to celebrate their arrival in the area.

“There’s a family coming every week. These aren’t even the Syrians yet. These are people who have been in the pipeline for two to three years.” Malloy said.

Eventually, Quinn hopes to gather a group of students and faculty who will welcome a Syrian refugee family to Scranton.

The Interfaith Candlelight Vigil was on the Dionne Green Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Contact the writer: michael.mazzuca@scranton.edu

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