REDEMPTORISTS’ MISSION BAGHDAD

REDEMPTORISTS’ MISSION BAGHDAD

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There, the government had given a large plot of ground to the Chaldean Patriarch, so that a Chaldean village could be constructed on it. The ground being divided up into parcels could be bought by the Christians. In order to attract them, the Patriarch, assisted by Fr.Praats, fixed there his seminary and orphanage. About one km. further, a church was build, and a parcel given to the Fathers to construct their own house. The construction of the house was fully paid by the Fathers. The other parcels were sold, but only 3 – 4 families actually came and build their houses there. Next to the residence, a church was build by Fr. Praats, with a “yezidiya” dome, which later on had to be remade by order of the Patriarch. Two years later, also the monks of St. Hormizd build a poor monastery in that neighborhood. Life was very primitive, no electricity and no water, practically in the midst of the desert, sleeping on the roof during the long unbearable summer, fighting against the mosquitoes.

Every day Fr. Cop went to the Seminary for his lessons. Fr.Praats with his car was like a secretary to the Patriarch, and helped in the seminary with all kinds of jobs. In the winter, when everything was flooded, he went walking to the village, some 7 km further, to bye bread for the seminarians, bearing the big sack on his shoulders. However, one day he got himself in trouble with the Chaldean rector of the seminary, Jacob Jesse, in a quarrel about the food of the students. This rector accused him at the government and Fr. Praats was expulsed from the country (1964?). Official records of this event were found, after the fall of the Sadam regime (2002). During this period, in 1964, Fr. Francis Van Stappen, had joined the Mission. He could drive a car, and was appointed teacher of Church History. In 1965 (Oct.) arrived Fr. Maurits Demarey and Fr. Vincent van Vossel. Later on, for some months only, they were joined by a student who was interested in the Mission, Jan Van Bellingen. The Fathers had to study the Arabic language, and at the same time prepare their courses for the seminary. Besides this, they also were involved in parish work in Daura or Baghdad churches. Fr. Francis was very productive. He composed a Church History in 5 volumes, uncompleted. He engaged in the Center of the Carmelites, where he became supervisor of the weekly film presentation, a matter he loved since boyhood. He issued a magazine about movies in general and the weekly films in particular. He collected an extraordinary documentation on movies, still kept until today.