Please pray for Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio SJ
It has been more than four years since Italian Jesuit Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio SJ disappeared in Raqqa, Syria. On July 29th 2013 Fr Paolo was kidnapped by ISIS along with two Bishops and two Priests. There has been no official confirmation of his whereabouts or health. We continue to pray for Fr Paolo, for all those taken hostage and for all those who have disappeared. We also keep their families in our prayers and do not lose hope.
Fr Paolo was born in Rome. His father had held important political positions in the Christian Democratic Party, but the son joined the Italian Socialist Party in his youth. On entering the Society of Jesus, he studied Philosophy at the University of Naples. In the early 1980s, Fr Paolo went to Damascus to study Arabic and registered in the Faculty of Sharia at the University of Damascus as an auditor. In 1982, he went to the monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian situated 80 km (50 miles) north of Damascus which was abandoned at the time. He played a key role in renovating the monastery starting in 1984. In 1989, he obtained a PhD degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the “Concept of Hope in Islam”.
Fr Paolo founded an ecumenical community in the restored Deir Mar Musa, a 6th century monastery fifty miles north of Damascus, where he served for over thirty years. During his time there, he transformed it from a Syriac Catholic desert outpost to an internationally celebrated inter-faith cultural centre.
This Christmas, the community of monks and nuns at Deir Mar Musa released a Christmas letter in which they speak of how the community are once again receiving Christian and Muslim pilgrims.
“The rooms of the monastery of al-Hayek, cleaned of the dust from the war, have opened their doors to welcome visitors who have come to spend a little time of prayer and meditation, far from the noise of the city and from life’s worries, in order to return recharged with strength to confront the challenges of daily life.”
“What a joy to see Christian and Moslem families climbing up again together to receive the blessing of this sacred place!”
In 2011, Paolo wrote an article requesting a peaceful democratic transition in Syria and met with opposition activists. This was met by an expulsion order by the Syrian government who did not approve of his writings. In 2012, he left Syria and went into exile to join a community in Iraq. In July 2013, he entered rebel held territory in East Syria and was kidnapped.