In 2001, when I said “Yes” to the Lord, “come, draw on the blank pages of my life,” I did not imagine such a drawing. Since that time my “Yes” has followed me because the Lord has unceasingly asked me to renew my “Yes.”
Syrian by birth, I have been in France for some twenty years and a French citizen for ten years. After choosing the Good Shepherd Congregation because of an attraction to its work with women and children, I wanted to return to my country to serve in this apostolate. Instead, my consecration sent me to Lyon to be with families and women from Iraq, Sudan, and other refugees in France. With them I discovered the same culture, the same language, and they said, “Lucie is one of us.” Together we travelled the same road of their Exodus and they wished to name their association “Good Shepherd.”
Seven years later, when I reflect on this mission today, I can only thank God for the gift of journeying with the women refugees and for all that has made us grow together.
When I arrived in Toulon in 2012, an Iraqi family welcomed me with open arms! In 2013, two Syrian families arrived in Toulon, fleeing the war in Aleppo, Mosul, and elsewhere. Since then, their numbers have been increasing and we have welcomed around 100 people of Syrian and Iraqi origin.
With the refugee families from my country, I feel an even greater commitment. Although I had wanted to return to Syria to be of help there, I had no choice but to answer the call, the urgent appeal to respond to this wave of refugees: to listen to them, accompany them, be their interpreter, find solutions, and help with administrative tasks, etc. Living in France for twenty years prepared me well for the important task of helping them feel at home and representing France in welcoming them. The Lord saw me as an instrument to be with and to serve his people.
In 2014, my own family arrived in France. We lost about a dozen people between Aleppo, Homs and in crossing the sea ... and it is not over yet. When they arrived, I was torn between the joy of seeing them alive and feeling angry because the war continued to uproot people. Yes, I was living and I still am feeling this inner conflict - , for what reason?
We work on our project as a community so that, together, we can respond in the best way possible to the tragedy knocking on our door. Furthermore, we are acting on Pope Francis’ appeal to be sensitive to the suffering of people torn from their land: "We must never forget that migrants, before being numbers, are people, faces, names, stories.” Our response is one of welcome. Risk, perseverance, abandonment to the divine will, and HOPE are all part of being a smoldering wick like Abraham, Joseph, and Mary.
It is Christ who is on the same path of tragedy that thousands of men, women, and children are subjected to in our day. With an open heart, may I welcome him, the Host, in the defenseless, undocumented refugee.