30 June 2016
Sister Wardeh Kayrouz, right, works in Lebanon, offering support to refugees who have fled
Iraq and Syria. (photo: Amal Morcos)
For decades, Sister Wardeh Kayrouz has been a voice for the voiceless — offering hope and help to countless refugees seeking sanctuary. She began her long relationship with CNEWA working in our Amman regional office. Today, she continues to partner with CNEWA in Lebanon, aiding so many who are fleeing violence, terror and war.
From a 2008 profile:
Sister Wardeh and her community, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, have dedicated their lives to helping families secure food, housing, work and other basics. In 2002 the sisters stepped up their efforts and forged a partnership with CNEWA’s operating agency in the Middle East, the Pontifical Mission.
An energetic woman with large, round wire-rimmed spectacles, she counsels a growing number of Iraqi families, administers a convent school and teaches catechism classes.
“When they live the word of God, they strengthen their faith, helping them better handle the bad situations they have here,” Sister Wardeh said.
...A social worker by training, Sister Wardeh counsels families struggling with domestic violence and the pain associated with it. Families have come to trust her and rely on her for guidance. She often finds herself at their homes, listening to their fears, holding their hands and helping them cope with their situations.
“Poverty brings out every type of problem between children and their parents. They have no money to go anywhere or do anything. There is no work. Women and their husbands argue over whether they should have left Iraq. They are home all day long, all the time,” Sister Wardeh said.
We revisited her two years ago, for a fresh look at Sister Wardeh’s world, and reported on retreats she is offering for refugees as a way to help them heal from the wounds of war:
It was her own experience with war in Lebanon that led her to her vocation. Born and reared in the town of Bcharri, the legendary mountainous stronghold of Lebanon’s Maronite Catholics, she completed a degree in sociology and became a teacher and a principal in her village.
In 1976, just as Lebanon’s civil war set in, Bcharri became a flash point for fighting between Maronite and Palestinian militias. During the war she met a religious sister named Beatrice who transported the dead and wounded with her car.
“Sister Beatrice used to say, ‘It is not I who am doing this, but God is doing it through me,’ and I was greatly affected by this.” Sister Wardeh eventually took her vows at age 27.
“My family lost everything in the war,” she says.
“My father and mother used to pray and they came back to the church and were able to cope with their loss and move on with their lives.
“The disaster did not tear us apart, it united us,” she continues. “I want everyone to know that you can lose everything, but you can still have hope in life.”
To lend your support to the heroic work of Sister Wardeh and others in Jordan, visit this giving page.