Fifth Sunday of Lent
Sunday 2nd April

SYRIA: Voices of Suffering and Hope

In Syria, life is precarious. As Christians, living in Raqqa – a Daesh (ISIS) stronghold – Elias and Samar were forced to pay the Jizya Tax for non-Muslims. Recently injured, Elias got an exemption but the ‘tax collector’ wouldn’t accept it, calling him a ‘Kafir’ – an unbeliever.

The argument escalated when Elias was pistol whipped and the ‘enforcer’ flung his statue of Our Lady of Fatima into a bin. Elias retaliated – for which he was dragged away to solitary confinement.

Brutalised and bound to a cross, after a month he was told that his throat would be slit soon. Before this could happen, the building was shelled and in the confusion he managed to escape, find his wife and escape with her to Aleppo.

Thanks to Sister Annie Demerjian, a key ACN project partner, the couple are receiving a survival package of aid – everything they need, a home, food, clothes, medicine, heating, electricity and water.

Elias says, “I have always prayed to Our Lady. God delivered us from evil and brought us to safety. We came here with nothing but now our hearts are full of gratitude for what you are doing to support our every need.”

The Christian community in Aleppo has endured extreme suffering and continues to rely on the Church and ACN for emergency support.

Your parish fundraising for SURVIVAL PACKS will be a lifeline of hope for Christians in Syria – especially in Aleppo, where they have survived years of carnage and targeted attacks.


SYRIA: Sister Annie “We put our lives in the hands of God”

Fifth Sunday of Lent, Sunday 2nd April

This Lent, please pray for the Christian community in Aleppo, the work of Sister Annie and her team and for the safe return of Elias and Samar’s children, Rima, 18, and 17-year-old Youhanna, kidnapped by Daesh and all priests and others who remain missing at this time. #DontGiveUpOnThem  


Fatima Prayers

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee! I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.

Most Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit- I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.

Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of Thy mercy.

Our Lady asked for the rosary to be prayed daily for world peace. During Lent we can renew our efforts to pray the rosary each day. This week we may want to offer our rosaries, prayers and penances for Sister Annie and her team, the safe return of Rima and Youhanna (kidnapped by Daesh) and all priests and others who remain missing at this time.   

Litany for Syria

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for Syria, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for Syria, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for Syria, pray for us.
St Joseph, patron and protector of the Universal Church, pray for Syria, pray for us.
Martyrs of Syria and the Middle East, pray for Syria, pray for us.
Saints of Syria and the Middle East, pray for Syria, pray for us.
St Charbel, pray for Syria, pray for us.


Matthew 10:26-33

 ‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father.  And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.


As we pray for those suffering in Syria we think of the words of Jesus on the cross:

THE FIRST SAYING: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34
Jesus, you forgave those who killed you. We find it so hard to forgive and wonder how it would be possible for Syrian Christians to forgive their oppressors. Lord, you know the spiritual strength needed for such super-human forgiveness; please help Christians in Syria and throughout the world to be able to imitate your example of forgiveness. May the cycle of evil be broken through love, forgiveness and healing. With your help, we can let go of grudges and seek reconciliation, as we prepare for Easter.

THE SECOND SAYING “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43
Jesus, your words to the penitent thief on the cross gives us a glimpse at the depths of your mercy. It is hard for us to pray for those who hate us, but this is our duty. We know it is our Christian duty to pray for those. Just as the thief on the cross was reconciled with you, may individual Daesh (ISIS) fighters have a change of heart.

THE THIRD SAYING:  “Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son.” Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother.”  John 19:26-27
In Syria, Elias’ statue of Our Lady of Fatima was flung into a bin by the ‘enforcer’. Throughout history we have seen that Christianity has triumphed over powers and authorities that appeared stronger. Our Lady is the Queen of Peace and as our Mother, we can ask for her help to bring God’s Kingdom to all places. We need to remind ourselves, that God’s way often looks weak as Jesus did on the cross, but the reality is triumph over evil.

THE FOURTH SAYING: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
Jesus felt completely alone on the cross, bearing the real consequences of all the sins of all people in all times. The separation from God experienced must have been beyond comprehension. Many Christians suffering in Syria said they felt abandoned by the whole world, at a time when they had to suffer the real consequences of sins against them. These spiritual realities can help us to see that God calls us away from sin because he knows it separates us from him, others and ourselves. As we prepare for Easter, may we examine our consciences and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the knowledge that our reconciliation with God benefits not just ourselves, but the whole Church.

THE FIFTH SAYING: “I thirst.” John 19:28
Jesus you still thirst today in war-torn areas of the world. As you delivered Elias from evil and overcame the power of evil on the cross may all who knowingly or unknowingly, seek the living water, be satisfied.

THE SIXTH SAYING: “It is finished;” John 19: 30
Father, your plan is being fulfilled throughout human history. Like Sr. Annie Demerjian and her team, he asks all of us to be part of the realisation of your will. May we respond willingly, in the knowledge that God calls each of us to be co-creators with him and gives each one the privilege of being partly responsible for the Body of Christ.

THE SEVENTH SAYING: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Luke 23:46
Jesus, you are love itself and the source of all love. Let your love overcome all hatred.

Related campaigns