Susan Klemond is a freelance writer living in St. Paul, Minn., who writes news and feature articles for the Register, OSV Newsweekly and the Catholic Spirit, the diocesan paper for St. Paul-Minneapolis. She also has worked in marketing, editing and magazine production. She thinks about St. Peter’s exhortation to ‘always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.’ While some days it’s probably better that no one asks, she keeps working on it.
Middle Eastern Christians are even less in the news following last year’s partial defeat of ISIS, but they continue to face persecution from smaller jihadi groups who share the goal of destroying Christianity “from the root to the last shoot,” said members of a Spanish association that is helping these Christians tell their stories.
“We are being blinded into thinking that the only threat to the persecuted Christians is the “Islamic State,” according religious sisters of Home of the Mother, a Spain-based public international association of the faithful whose EUK Mamie Foundation has produced dozens of videos featuring interviews with witnesses to the persecution through its HM Television.
Home of the Mother Servant Sisters Isabel Jordán, SHM and Sr. Teresa M Pérez, SHM, located in Zurita de Piélagos, Cantabria, Spain responded to questions about the foundation’s videos.
Though ISIS is less active in some areas, it has gained strength in others, they said, adding that many “sleeper cells” attack Christians in Iraq and other locations. Hopes for full tolerance of Christians in majority or fully Islamic countries continue to seem distant.
HM Television continues to amplify the voices of those who have suffered, as Iraq begins to rebuild and as ISIS continues to terrorize parts of Syria. Among its offerings are a series of firsthand accounts of the persecution called “In the Footsteps of the Nazarene,” and videos containing footage and prayers of persecuted Christians — not only in the Middle East — called Wake Up Multimedia, all available through YouTube.
Founded in 1982, Home of the Mother’s members are priests, brothers, sisters and lay persons seeking defense of the Eucharist, of the Blessed Mother’s honor and the conversion of youth. The association founded EUK Mamie Foundation in 2003 and HM Television began producing media for cultural, social and religious formation in society.
In 2007 HM Television and radio producers started offering daily international and Church news about the persecution of Christians which it said showed the same “ferociousness of the first centuries.”
When ISIS rose to prominence in 2010 and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called the Christian faithful to assist in the crisis, association members felt compelled to do more.
Relying on God’s providence, HM Television developed contacts in Church movements and institutions who began connecting them with bishops, priests, religious, missionaries and lay people coming to Spain to speak on the situation in their countries.
“Since the fury of war and destruction has arisen in those countries [the movements and institutions] have continued to bring, without interruption, direct witnesses of those realities, bishops, priests, missionaries, to give conferences and speak with people about what they and their people are living through,” the sisters said.
“That was how it started and since then, to our own surprise, we haven’t stopped recording.”
While YouTube is the biggest broadcaster of HM Television’s videos, TV stations also run them in Spanish and English.
The videos are aimed at teens and adults, and can be used for meetings, catechesis, prayer, etc., the Foundation especially hopes the videos encourage young people to embrace their faith and make the persecuted Church an example for their own lives.
“The Wake Up” project, as well as the series, “In the Footsteps of the Nazarene,” are designed to “awaken in all souls (children or adults) an unconditional love for the faith and the adherence of our soul to it, whatever our life circumstances,” the sisters said.
A lack of media coverage of the persecution, especially in the United States, motivated HM Television to continue producing the powerful stories of those persecuted and martyred for their Christian faith. According to a missionary in an interview, this silence represents a “tremendous sin of omission” by the Western culture which has become lax.
According the sisters, “the silence of the baptized who are afraid that they, too, will be persecuted for telling the truth — is a symptom that shows the little love we have for the Truth — in capital letters — that is Christ,” the sisters said.
North Americans receive less news of the persecution because “powerful groups, both political and nonpolitical, have always silenced the authentic news, realities and testimonies that have come to the West from countries of persecution,” according to the sisters.
From the worldwide viral response some of the videos have received, Home of the Mother believes that if more Christians and Catholics saw the videos, many souls in North America would unite in heart and faith with their persecuted brothers and sisters, and would collaborate more in transmitting and understanding the reality of the persecution.
If we forget the persecuted Christians and don’t support them, something isn’t right in our own lives of faith and communion, the sisters said.
“Don’t be afraid to seek the truth. Don’t be afraid to live your faith as radically as a martyr who goes so far as to give their life in a bloody way because of having given of themselves each day in the small and large things. Open your eyes to a world larger than North America — to the heart of the entire Church.”