The Ecumenical Program “Trauma Healing and Spiritual Counseling”

The MECC Theological and Ecumenical Department (TED) organized, an ecumenical program of Trauma Healing and Spiritual Counseling for pastors in Iraq on June 9 to 15, 2019. Eighteen priests, pastors, nuns, and laymen in leading positions of the local church institutions benefited from the five-days program which took place at the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchal Seminary of St. Peter, in Ankawa – Irbil.

MECC team was headed by the Director of the MECC Theological and Ecumenical Department, Rev. Fr. Gaby Hachem, the Executive Director Sister Emily Tannous, and 4 Psychological and spiritual counseling specialists.

This ecumenical program aims at empowering the trainees and providing the necessary spiritual, intellectual and physical means to restore their self-confidence, explore their strengths and weaknesses, and improve their performance in Church institutions and in the communities that they serve. The team worked on helping participants identify strategies to deal with trauma and build resilience for themselves and others. They were helped to provide a secure space for expression and communication by creating cooperation channels and prospects of new and constructive relationships between these groups for the present and future.

The schedule featured lectures, specialized training sessions, as well as personal, spiritual and psychological counseling. In addition, it provided morning exercises with a special trainer and leadership skills workshops. The purpose was to assist pastors in transiting from the trauma stage to the ability of offering support and communication to parishioners. Thus they could build an ecumenical network among church ministers in Iraq.

In this context, the Director of the MECC Theological and Ecumenical Department, Rev. Fr. Gaby Hachem called the hosting seminary as “an oasis of peace”, explaining that the targeted people were “suffering in their minds and souls”. He emphasized on their “huge need to talk about their fears, to receive support, and to be heard”. “The world cannot remain indifferent to the remnants of violence, war and conflict. We cannot stand by and do nothing”, he added.

At length, MECC delegates expressed sincere thanks to His Beatitude Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans for hosting the program.