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WeAreN-bumper-sticker-webImage being used on bumper sticker

BRANFORD – Responding to the U.S. bishops’ call for an Aug. 17 day of prayer in solidarity with persecuted Iraqi Christians, St. Mary Parish is distributing bumper stickers with the Arabic symbol that represents Christianity. The symbol is the Arabic letter N, which stands for Nazarene, a perjorative term for Christian in the Arabic language.

Father Christopher M. Ford, pastor, said he and parochial vicar Father Robert N. Landback wanted to raise awareness of the plight of Iraqi Christians, who are being persecuted by the ISIS militants in Iraq. The bumper sticker shows the Arabic symbol above the link “#WeAreN,” which can be accessed from Facebook or Twitter. He said it means “We are Christians too. We are in solidarity with Christians in Iraq.”

Below the hashtag link is a cross and the phrase, “We Stand with Iraqi Christians.”

“We are going to pray at Sunday Masses, and the bumper sticker is something they can put in their windows at home or on their cars, to raise awareness and remind us of the extraordinary freedom we have here to worship according to our conscience,” Father Ford said.

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair is urging the faithful of the Archdiocese of Hartford to pray for peace in Iraq on Aug. 17. 

An entry in the Aug. 17 St. Mary's bulletin explains the symbol and adds, “ISIS militants have been spray-painting this symbol on the houses of Christians in Mosul to designate which houses to attack. The families are being threatened to convert to Islam or be killed. Many faithful men, women, and children have been martyred for the faith.”

Father Ford said, “It’s just an unspeakable situation right now, and so many of us Christians feel kind of helpless. We wanted to support them in any way we can and to increase awareness.”

He likened the spray-painting of the symbol on Christian homes to the Nazis’ singling out of Jews.

He said the genocide is horrific, and that “it isn’t getting the attention it deserves. People are just starting to become aware of it,” he said.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.