Syria: A Mother, her Son Killed in the War, Finds Strength in her Faith: ‘Our Roots must be Planted in God’

Yolla Ghandour, a Syrian-Armenian Catholic and mother of three, lives in Aleppo. She saw some of the worst fighting of the Syrian civil war. She talked to Aid to the Church in Need about the death of her 19-year-old son, Krikor, who died in the fighting.

“There were five of us: my husband, my two sons and daughter, and myself. Our financial circumstances worsened as a result of the war. My husband and Krikor lost their jobs because the area where they worked was dangerous; it was shelled by militants. To cover necessities, we relied on our savings. It was a difficult time.

“A week before he died [on April 16, 2014], Krikor came home to visit us because an uncle had passed away. While getting ready to leave again, he turned to his father and said, ‘I am going back to death.’

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Syria: Yolla Ghandour praying the rosary at the tomb of her son. She is Syrian-Armenian Catholic and mother of three, she lives in Aleppo, which saw some of the worst fighting of the Syrian civil war.
Her 19-year-old son, Krikor, who died in the fighting." Image: Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

“On the day he died, we spoke on the phone, and after the call ended I had a strong feeling, like a premonition. I prayed to the Virgin Mary: ‘Please don’t test me. You tasted from this cup; please don’t let me experience the same pain.’

“That night I received another call. They told me that Krikor was wounded, and that he’d been taken to a hospital. I rushed to his side, praying to St. Sharbel: ‘I have given you my son. I do not want to find him dead.’ But, inside, I was nearly sure that he had died.

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An icon of Saint Sharbel Makhlouf.

“After his death, I struggled with St Sharbel: ‘I don’t love you anymore. I begged you to keep my son alive, and you didn’t.’ Then, about 10 minutes later, I looked at the saint’s face in a painting we own and said to him: ‘I can’t keep myself from loving you. But promise me that you will be with my son.’

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Saint Charbel Makhlouf, O.L.M. (May 8, 1828 – December 24, 1898) was a Maronite monk and priest from Lebanon. During his life he obtained a wide reputation for holiness and he has been canonized by the Catholic Church. Many Lebanese Christians have prayer cloths blessed and then place them on the sick, praying to God through the intercession of Saint Charbel, for healing. Photographer: Fr. Andrzej Halemba. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

“As Christians, we believe in the resurrection, and after a few months of reflection on life in the kingdom of God, I learned that the dead see, hear, and feel us. And I found that I could be proud of my son, above all else.

“When we face life’s storms, we must stand like a strong tree, roots fixed deeply in the ground. Our roots must be planted in God; we must weather change and grief with trust in His love.”

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Syria - Aleppo - destroyed, March 2019  Photographer: Pierre Macqueron. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

From 2011, when the Syrian civil war began, through 2018, ACN has supported the pastoral and humanitarian mission of the various Churches in Syria with projects totaling more than AUD $53 Million dollars.

Prayer points:

  • We pray for all those who have lost loved ones in the Syrian civil war, may God comfort them and be close to them
  • For Peace in the Middle East that leaders strive for peace and that the Holy Spirit allows people to forgive each other and rebuild the country
  • That those living in countries where there is peace and prosperity can assist those that need assistance due to war.

Lord hear us, 
Lord graciously hear us.

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