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Monday, July 3, 2023

From the Land of Martyrs, Young Catholic Refugee Lives in No-Man's Land

Persecuted Christians Struggle in Lebanon 

by Susan Fox

An artist and a young lady 

She is pretty, young, hopeful and works hard. She is a painter, a novelist, plays Volley Ball and piano. She is 24 years old, but legally in Lebanon, she doesn’t exist. 

She is forbidden to work and can’t go to school, and if she met with the Lebanese police they could put her in prison.  She is an Iraqi Catholic refugee, one of 50,000 who settled in Lebanon fleeing persecution from the Islamic State from 2014 to 2019. In Lebanon, the Iraqi refugees try not to travel. The Lebanese checkpoints are dangerous to their  freedom.

Her poignant face graces more than 100 bill boards in Germany with the words, “Are you for violence or people?” sponsored by the relief agency Misereor in Germany. 

Her family lived in Telluskof near Quraqosh on the Nineveh plain  in Iraq in 2015 when she was 17 years old. ISIS terrorists plowed into her town, giving her a choice: convert to Islam, pay a tax or leave all your possessions.  “Those minutes were ringing church bells, the sounds of crying children and the screaming of elders and mothers who did not have cars to escape!  Hunger, thirst, fear and crying!  No one felt us like God! He was our strength and He who gave us patience!” she said.

Are you for violence or people? 

Her name is Alvera Tohi, a Chaldean Catholic. She, her parents and three brothers moved to Lebanon and tried to immediately to join relatives in the United States. But they have waited six long years for an initial interview, and they are still waiting.  

She was no stranger to ISIS danger. Five ISIS terrorists invaded Our Lady of Salvation Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad during the Mass on Oct. 31, 2010. Alvera’s cousin, her friend and 46 other ordinary Catholics were killed.  “My father’s cousin is Chaldean, but she happened to go to a Syrian Catholic Church  that Sunday.” Now all 48 are in the process of canonisation. It is said God chooses His martyrs, not the other way around.

On March 5, Pope Francis entered the killing ground of Our Lady of Salvation Church. For his historic trip to Iraq, he  took what is called the path of the pearls of Babylon. The  riches of Iraq are its martyrs. He asked the Iraqi people to come home and save Christianity in the Middle East. 

The riches in Iraq are counted in dead, not jobs. Alvera says no, she won’t come home. “I love my heritage. I’m Chaldean. I’m proud I am from Iraq, but all my relatives are living in San Diego and we want to be together there.” Iraq is still dangerous. Witness the suicide bombings in Bagdad on Jan. 21, 2021 that killed 32 people and injured another 110.  Plus Iraq has a new government, which is unstable.  There is no work for young Christians there. There is no longer a future. 

“My dream was to study business because I always feel that I am a leader and strong, this dream was the right of every young man and woman in Iraq. In 2014 all my dreams  that I had built were destroyed, and everything evaporated.”

Alvera Tohi did not give up. She has impacted the lives of nearly 2,000 Iraqi children by giving them an education at  the Angel of Peace School in Beirut. Lebanon won’t let them go to school, so the Iraqis organised one for themselves. Currently she has 240 pupils. “About 4 years ago, I decided to dedicate my life to children and the needy, so I felt that Divine Providence always accompanies me. And because I am a refugee like them, I certainly know their suffering.”

Many Iraqis have moved on to Australia  (75 percent) and Canada (10 percent). But Alvera and her family held on for the United States, and so got left behind in a no man’s land of legal instability. About 900 Iraqi families are still waiting with her. They want to go to any country that is safe and offers a future. 

Thursday, September 8, 2022

A Mother Rejoices on Our Lady’s Feast Because Her Children Recovered from Covid-19:

She Celebrates Our Lady’s Birthday, Sept. 8, 2022 with the People of Vincenza, Italy 

By Phoebe Wise 

Our Lady of Monte Berico
I love this story about Our Lady of Monte Berico because the Virgin Mary chose to appear to an elderly person, a 70-year-old woman.  

She requested that the people build a church in that spot and promised to end the plague that had been killing people there in Vicenza for decades.  No one believed the poor woman, but she remained faithful, and when the Virgin appeared to her again two years later, the people — weary of the plague — finally believed and built the church.  It’s a beautiful shrine. People in Italy and around the world prayed to the Virgin to end the Covid-19 plague, and she did it:  the virus has weakened, and few people are dying from it anymore. 
Shrine of Monte Berico, Vincenza, Italy
But sadly many people have been killed and injured by these hideous vaccines, which are a cannibalistic sacrifice to Moloch.  They are a whole new pagan religion.    

The institutional church abandoned us in this plague. Instead of leading prayers and processions and telling the people to repent in dust and ashes, they shut down worship and mandated an evil potion that is killing people and destroying their fertility.  This is how you can tell the enemy has taken over most of the hierarchy.    

Do I sound like a doomsayer?  I’m just saying what I see.    

But nonetheless I am feeling great joy.  Our Lady of Monte Berico HAS  sent a cure for the plague of Covid — the weakening of the virus — but no one is acknowledging it.  

Instead, the governments and some of the churches are continuing to mandate and promote these deadly Covid shots because they provide great profits to the elite.  I cannot do anything about the evil elites of the world, but I can acknowledge Mary’s loving intercession.  I am just a 71-year-old woman, but I have the immense privilege of seeing what Our Lady the Queen of Heaven has done for us and thanking her.  I know that my guardian angel and my patron saints will augment my humble thanks and make it worthy for her.   

And more people are waking up to what a lie these shots are.  My daughter and son-in-law got the shots, but they have since realized they are worthless.  They got Covid over the weekend, and are still suffering the effects, but I am not worried about them dying from this plague, thanks be to God.  All glory to Jesus, and to Our Lady of Monte Berico for her powerful intercession.   

I am now praying to Our Lady that she will intercede for us to end a greater plague, which is the blindness of the people to the immorality, worthlessness, and physical dangers of these shots.  And all of that stems from lack of faith in God.  The people blindly put their faith in government and pseudo-science without following the moral law, which in medicine says, first do no harm.   

Test all remedies fully to make as certain as possible that they are safe and effective.  And of course, the most basic principle of all:  do not take innocent lives to save other lives.  Do not create medicines and lab procedures that require the cruel vivisection of tiny babies.  There can never be any justification for this evil. 

With everything we have been through in the past two and a half years, I am still feeling joy and thanks.  Our Lady got us through those dark times with her most Holy Rosary when we were abandoned by our bishops and clergy.  We never lost hope and faith; we knew that even if the virus took our lives, we were not abandoned by God.  And now He has sent a cure, thanks to Our Lady and the intercession of so many saints and angels.    

I am just wondering if God will raise up more widely recognized saints in this time.  I see many lay people fighting for truth and for human rights, and some of them are Catholic.  Many more are not Catholic or even Christian, but God is helping them to fight in the public square.  Among the bishops there are only a handful, who are fighting the insanity of an abortion-tainted vaccine.  

I think that this is the hour of the humble and unknown lay people like us.  We are not known or recognized, and speaking for myself, certainly not saintly, but we are resisting the lies and offering up our prayers, and thereby perhaps according ourselves to God’s Providence in some way known only to Him.  

I know one thing:  God always values prayer and thanksgiving, even from sinners.    I am happy because there is something I can do about the plague:  I can trust in Him and thank Him.  I am praying that our country will wake up to the lies and turn to God again.   

At the end of the story of Our Lady of Monte Berico it says that the people in thanksgiving for her protection during World War I promised to celebrate her birthday every year in a special way.  

Today is Sept 8, the Nativity of Our Lady.  I am wishing you and the rest of the world a very happy feast day of Our Lady.

 Read about the miracle of Our Lady of Monte Berico here:


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Lebanon is broke and starving

The Future for Lebanese Youth is Grim

by Susan Fox 

The water from the faucet is undrinkable. 

At least two people in every Lebanese family has cancer. 

The unemployment rate has been driven up to 45 percent since the start of the October 2019 revolution, forcing 60 percent of the Lebanese into poverty in 2021.

The average  monthly salary for a person in Lebanon reached  $50, but 90 percent of it goes to the government to pay for undrinkable water, electrical black outs, and a personal  generator. The rest must go for food, rent and medicine, but food prices have risen 500 percent in two years.

If you had money in the bank two years ago. Maybe you saved the equivalent of $3,000. Now it’s worth $300 and the bank won’t let you make a withdrawal until its value falls even further. There is literally no way to get food in Lebanon unless you have a cousin out of the country who will mail you dollars.  Fresh Dollars from the U.S. are the only way to survive in Lebanon.  

Lebanon is utterly broke and starving. The number of Lebanese living in poverty has risen from 28 percent of the population in 2019 to more than 60 percent in 2021. And it is forecast to rise to 75 percent. 

Yes, Lebanon  is regarded as a rich country. Yet 10 percent of Lebanon’s adults hold 70 percent of its personal wealth. And they are letting the trash accumulate on the beach, the chemical factories dump into the drinking water, and the fancy hotels on the beach dump their sewerage in the Mediterranean Sea, killing the fishing industry. Some incredibly selfish person used the Lebanese farmers to transport drugs into Saudi Arabia, hiding the drugs in the pomegranates. Now Saudi Arabia won’t buy its produce from Lebanon. The Lebanese farms produce better produce than California, and it will rot. The people can’t afford it. Their currency is worthless.The farmers have no market.

Remember the story in the Bible of the rich man who lived in luxury? At his door lay a beggar named Lazarus, who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. That’s the story of Lebanon.  

Let me introduce you to Lazarus in Lebanon. His name is Anthony Nasrani, a Maronite Catholic, handsome and faith filled. “There is no salvation outside Jesus Christ. I am saying this to all the people we help. Jesus Christ is the only one who can save you. I feel His presence in my heart.” the 20-year-old said. He is a volunteer for the MissionofHopeandMercy.org in Lebanon. He distributes food, rental money and medicine to those who ask for help. They are Syrian and Iraqi refugees and Lebanese Christians. He even extends the hand of mercy to Muslims. The Mission supports almost 5000 Lebanese families. For all his efforts he is fed, but not paid. Mission of Hope and Mercy runs on volunteers. Every cent  donated goes to the poor.

During the interview, the electricity shut down. This is typical. Beside Anthony is Khaled Bouyounes, who also volunteers to help the Mission. He runs a car rental agency, but he hasn’t made money in two years. Once a year for Ramadan, he rents some cars, but that is the totality of his business. Other Lebanese NGOs wear fancy jewellery and fine clothes. When Anthony and Khaled visit with dignitaries in the Church, the priests always remark how little they have. Khaled doesn’t have a car and must get a ride with Anthony.

Beirut waterfront explosion Aug., 4, 2020
They went to Khaled’s rental car business in a big building containing a hotel  so they could be interviewed over Zoom on a cell phone. The hotel has a back up generator, so the lights come back on. Khaled’s rental car headquarters was destroyed in the Beirut waterfront explosion on Aug. 4, 2020. Anthony estimates that about 40 percent of the people are still homeless and Khaled said the insurance companies did not pay people for the loss of their homes or their businesses. They still don’t know what caused the fire that started the explosion.


But there is a greater problem in Lebanon, according to Anthony, “Lebanese youth are not supposed to think only of food and drink. Where are their dreams? I want to help Lebanon, but first I want to grow myself too.” He wants an education. It’s the same for all the Lebanese children, who are sitting at home now twiddling their thumbs unable to pay for school.

Another war on Lebanon’s southern border is brewing. Lebanese Hezbollah is shooting rockets at Israel, who is returning fire. Anthony is asking us to us to pray for Christians in the Middle East. “They want us to hate Lebanon. They want us to give up on Jesus Christ. They want us always to be tired and sad,” Anthony said, “But this (Mission of Hope and Mercy) is the work of the Holy Spirit. God is working. He is dominating this place.”