What may come as a surprise to most people who talk to Fr. Pierre Konja about Iraq is the normalcy of it all. “I grab a bite to eat with friends in town and the locally owned Christian restaurants will even serve beer. I drove to the store today and picked up few things, the kids play Fortnite and love Snapchat” said Fr Pierre, speaking on a Sunday evening Iraqi time.
He even picked up an exercise mat this day for his room at the seminary where he is currently living. “When my parents came to visit, I drove them through the North and we felt comfortable the whole time. My father left Iraq almost 40 years ago and my mother almost 50 years, which is the story for many Chaldean families in Detroit, so we’ve lost a connection to the country. When I tell people that ALL my aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings live in America, they’re surprised because for people who left Iraq after the 90’s, their families are spread around the world in different countries.”
Fr. Pierre enjoyed his time with his parents. “My parents loved their visit to Iraq, there are still some unsafe areas near Mosul that we didn’t get to see, but we drove from Ankawa, visited Shaqlawa and the waterfalls, Alqosh and the great history there, Duhok, Zakho, Amedia, Aradan, and back to Ankawa. I think it was bittersweet for all of us because Iraq is truly a beautiful country with a lot of natural resources, it’s just sad to see how division, persecutions, and wars can hinder such potential development and stability.”
His day-to-day life is pretty uneventful he explains. His official assignment is the spiritual director at St. Peter’s Chaldean Seminary in Ankawa, which is a Christian village just outside of Erbil, more than an hour east of Mosul. He also spends time learning Arabic, to speak as well learning to read the written language. “My Sourath is much better,” said Fr. Pierre. “I preach every Sunday in our native tongue and I am much more comfortable today with the language. I am tutored in Arabic and I practice reading the language every day, but Arabic is a difficult language, I’m sure it’ll be a lifelong journey to get comfortable with it, but I’m happy with my progress.”
Read more at Chaldean News.