Iraq Church holds first service in eight years since ISIS invasion

St. Kyriakos' Chaldean Catholic Church during its Easter service

St. Kyriakos' Chaldean Catholic Church, Batnaya, Iraq has re-opened for services after it was shut down in 2014 after an attack from terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

According to The Christian Post, the church held service this Easter to mark the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. During the attack of the church eight years ago, the Islamic terrorists destroyed statues and scattered the altar of the church.

Another church close by was not spared. The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception had the terrorists desecrating the place and writing anti-Christian statements on the wall. One of such statements read, "O, you expletive slaves of the Cross, we will kill you all... You dirty people, you do not belong here."

Consequently, Batnaya community was invaded by ISIS as it had majority of Christians living in it. It took a while before the Islamic terrorists were chased out of the town. So far, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has supported the community in getting back to its former shape.

After ISIS lost control of the community, ACN launched a major program aimed at rebuilding and restoring Batnaya. The organization is also helping residents in the community, who flew due to the attack, to return.

St. Kyriakos' Chaldean Catholic Church and Chapel of the Immaculate Conception got over $216,000 for its reconstruction. In addition, ACN is assisting to rebuild St. Oraha's Dominican convent, the parish hall, two kindergartens, library and the priest's house.

Rebuilding work has commenced but it was halted during the Holy Week to allow for Easter programs to be held. The Easter service would be the first since August 2014.

Speaking on the reopening of the Catholic church, Parish deacon, Rev. Basim told ACN: "We were all so happy to come to the church for the Easter services. We had worked so hard to get to this stage and the place was so full there were people in the aisles." 

There are expectations that reconstruction work will be completed by July. 

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