Speaker to talk about working in Iraq

Derrin Coad, Staff Reporter

The Students for Peace and Justice will bring a speaker to discuss first-hand experiences during time spent in Iraq at 7 p.m Wednesday in Lumpkin Auditorium.

Sister Marceline Koch, who has been a member of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield for 54 years, will also summarize the humanitarian crisis occurring in that region.

Koch and two other nuns from the Dominican Sisters traveled to a region of Iraq that was in a state of mass exodus, with over 100,000 of the region’s residents fleeing from the advances of ISIS.

Koch said that ISIS was only 25 miles from their location at one stage of their journey.

The threat of ISIS has greatly affected the Christians of Iraq and Syria, as Koch said that after ISIS took the Iraqi city of Mosul, the practice of Mass was interrupted there for the first time in 1,600 years.

“(ISIS) is destroying the cultural pieces in Iraq,” says Koch.

Koch said that the refugees that were in the camps constantly struggled to survive. By the time the sisters had arrived at the camps, tents were running scarce, families were forced to live in cold, metal sheds and electricity was hard to come by.

Koch, as well as the other three Dominican sisters, was sent to visit with other Dominican Christians of that region and show their solidarity with them.

Koch also said she went to Iraq to gain perspective on the crisis to help understand the conflicts that are happening there and to figure out how to spread her knowledge of the tragedies she has witnessed.

“To see it and to be able to share what I’ve seen is different than sharing what someone else says,” Koch said.

Courtney Osborn, an Eastern student and one of the members of the Students for Peace and Justice, helped put the event together in order to inform students about what is happening on the other side of the world.

“We wanted to bring Sister Marcelline here to share her story about the displacement of so many people in Iraq and her journey of love and solidarity,” said Osborn.

The event will also include an introduction by Ed Wehrle, who is a professor of history at Eastern. Wehrle says that he will also briefly describe the refugee and humanitarian disaster occurring now in Iraq, Syria and the rest of the Middle East.

Osborn, speaking on behalf of the Students for Peace and Justice, is proud that the group is able to receive Koch this Wednesday in Lumpkin.

“As part of the title of our organization, we want justice for those people who are displaced,” says Osborn.  “By having Koch share her story, we hope that students can understand and see the bigger picture of what is actually going on.”


Derrin Coad can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]