Details continue to emerge surrounding the life and death of Syrian Friar Franҫois Mourad who is the latest in a string of casualties of Christian leaders who have been killed in Syria. Mourad was killed when Islamic extremists who are part of the forces opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad entered the monastery where he and others had sought refuge.
6/26/2013 Syria (AsiaNews) – Fr. Franҫois Mourad was a man of faith, who chose to build from scratch the Monastery of St Simeon Stylites, despite the difficulties of the war, challenging Islamic extremists. Unfortunately, his attempt failed, but his life was fulfilled through the most extreme sacrifice: giving his life for Jesus and for the people who were with him,” a Syrian Franciscan friar told AsiaNews, anonymous for security reasons.
“In past years, Fr Franҫois Mourad repeatedly put his life on the line in Syria pushing for the construction of the monastery,” the priest said.
“Initially, he bought some land near Aleppo with the help of some local families, but was chased away by Islamic extremists. So he decided to fall back on Al-Ghassaniyah, where he built a small hermitage a few kilometres from the village with the help of some young Syrians.”
“His work had just started,” the monk explained, “when Islamist troops put the area under siege. He eventually found himself alone as his postulants fled because of the war, witnessing helplessly the destruction and looting of the monastery and nearby villages.”
“Fr Franҫois Mourad had the opportunity to go away, to take shelter in a safer area, but decided to stay in order to serve his people, willing to help the local parish priest and the nuns of the Franciscan Monastery of St Anthony in the village of Al-Ghassaniyah, which had an infirmary; the only clinic in the area and a point of reference for many Christian and Muslim families.”