Homs-Syria : March 9th had been a very absorbing day for me here in Homs, Syria. Being there from early morning- a city which has been bombed,battered and bruised by this civil war. An eerie feeling as one goes around in a war-torn city. Listening to the pain and suffering that people have gone through and are still going through – makes one realize that even if the war stops now- the real healing will take a long ,long time…
Thousands have just abandoned their homes and have gone away- many here were killed. In the midst of the hate, strive,suffering,…I had a very special meeting with some youth of the area late that evening at this Jesuit Centre here in Boustan-Diwan (the inner city of Homs)
All of them speak of and fondly remember ONE MAN : Fr Frans van der Lugt, a Jesuit who was assassinated here in this residence in on April 7th 2014 by terrorists -at the age of 75 yrs. These youth very vividly his message of love: justice, reconciliation and peace for all! For all that he meant for that he meant to those he came in contact with; for his selfless service.They are determined to continue living his message in very concrete . When everybody was fleeing from Homs – Frans refused to go away from this Centre- he wanted to be in the midst of those who had nowhere to go to..
Frans is today regarded as a Saint by Muslims and Christians alike because he spent all his life promoting justice,reconciliation and peace and particularly, Christ’s message of love. In 2012 at the start of this civil war he sheltered more than 2000 Muslims in this Centre. On that day morning I spent a long time at his grave praying that his martyrdom will not go in vain
It was a great privilege for me to be there on that day and to spend the night in this very place where Frans lived and ultimately gave his life for a greater good
Hopefully I will write a longer article on Fr Frans in a few days time- based on the much I have experienced and heard on March 9! Pray for us Fr Frans!
From Syria with love
Note : Fr. Cedric Prakash Sj is Regional Advocacy & Communications Officer, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Middle East & North Africa (MENA)Region, Beirut,LEBANON
by Fr Cedric Prakash Sj