The ordination of Martin Baani, a Catholic priest who became one of the faces of Iraqi Christians fleeing Islamic State (IS) when he dedicated himself to the needs of thousands of people in displacement camps, has been celebrated as a revival of Christianity in the Middle East, reports Crux.
Louis Sako, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Baghdad, who performed the ordination of Baani and a second priest, Joachim Sliwa, called it “a great sign of hope in a time of great crisis”. Sliwa, who emigrated from Iraq to Germany ten years ago, will serve refugee Iraqis and others in Berlin.
The two priests were ordained in Ankawa, a suburb of Erbil, northern Iraq, which became home to thousands of Christians fleeing IS as they advanced across the Nineveh Plains in August 2014.
Baani turned down an opportunity to follow his family to the US, instead choosing to work in Ankawa with fellow displaced Christians from his home town of Karamles.
He told World Watch Monitor in 2015 that the forced displacement of Christians by IS “has proved my calling. I am needed here at this moment to feed my people with charity and hope”.
To coincide with the two-year anniversary of IS capturing towns in the Nineveh Plains, Martin started a Liberate Mosul campaign to both raise awareness and, he said, act as “a motivator for us to not just sit around and be sad but to become active and start rebuilding”.