Each Monday the Jesuits of my community in Omaha, Nebraska have Mass together, and dinner. In between, because we are part of the Wisconsin province and we have cheese and crackers we talk about the day, writes Patrick Gilger in America.
We talk about how the class taught by one went, the talk given by another, what we read in the paper, how the students are doing; the normal stuff of life.
Last week, during this time, a group of four or five or six of us stood near our round breakfast table, surrounding a friend of ours, Tony Homsy. It is normal for Jesuit communities to be ethnically diverse these days. In ours there are the usual German- and Irish-Americans along with an Asian-American, a Mexican-American, a young priest from Indonesia, another from Panama, etc. And there is Tony, who is from Aleppo, Syria.
'Are you sad?' he asked.
'Sure. Yes,' Tony replied. In the everyday chatter of the recreation room our circle was quiet as we felt sad, too, and waited for his next words.
The war in Syria started in March of 2011. Fr Frans had by then been living and working for 48 years in Syria - as a psychotherapist, a retreat leader, pastor and founder of Al Ard, an organization that cares for the mentally handicapped and provides one of the rare spaces where the three Abrahamic religions can come together and pray. He was considered a kind of holy puzzle by many Syrians: a Dutchman who learned to love Syria perhaps more than they themselves.
FULL STORY What martyrdom means (America)