Iraq: Hundreds of displaced children make their First Communion in refugee camp

Four hundred and seventy children living in Erbil's Aishty 2 camp for the displaced are making their First Communion in three groups between May 27 and June 10. There are 5,500 people living in the makeshift Aishty 2 camp, the majority of whom - more than 2,000 - are children. 

The children and their families are mostly from the city of Qaraqosh, where they fled Islamic State. All those making their First Communion are from the Syriac-Catholic rite, according to Catholic News Agency.

Qaraqosh was the Christian capital of Iraqi Kurdistan before it was attacked during the night on August 6 2014. First Communion is the Catholic rite of passage which commemorates the person's first reception of the sacrament of Holy Eucharist. 

Friday's mass was performed by Syriac-Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Yohanno Petros Moshe, in a church built in the camp. The church, which now has capacity for 800 people, was initially a tent erected when the Christian refugees first arrived in the camp. 

It now serves as the Aishty camp's main church, which is so large it is divided into three different sectors. In March, four deacons were ordained into the new parish serving the camps who now work with refugees full time. 

by Florence Taylor
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