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ICC Note: Father Rodrigo Miranda was a priest in Aleppo, Syria between 2011 and 2014. It was there with the persecuted Christian community that the Chilean priest learned what it meant to be a priest. He saw the church drop from 300 people to 15, as so many died or were forced to leave because of the fighting. In all his years in Syria, Father Miranda explained that he never hear one complaint against God uttered in the church, but rather the opposite. They thanked God everyday for his grace despite the dire circumstances.

05/19/2016 Syria (Cross Map):Father Rodrigo Miranda is a priest from Chile. But it was in Syria, among the oppressed Christian community, that he learned what it really meant to be a priest.

“They wake us up to the essential and important things in life,” he told the Spanish daily ABC. The witness of the persecuted Christians in Syria is “an antidote for the mediocre and decadent world of our societies.”

Fr. Miranda is a member of the Institute of the Incarnate Word. He lived in Aleppo, Syria from March 2011 until late 2014, when he was forced to leave the country. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in the country’s ongoing civil war, while millions have been displaced from their homes.

The war has affected church attendance in the outlying areas.

“On the weekends we used to have between 250 and 300 people, now we have 15,” the priest said. “More people go to the churches in the center of town because they’re more protected. Since we’re a minority, we all know each other. We know by first and last name those who have been killed.”

Though the war has changed life for Syria’s Christians, their faith endures.

“In all the years I was in Syria, I never heard one person complain against God. Just the opposite. They thank God every day,” Fr. Miranda said. “When they tell you the most terrible stories they always finish by saying ‘But thanks be to God we’re alive, we can come to church.’ The Christians in the Middle East have a different temperament. Every time there’s a bombardment, the church is filled up. I don’t see sad faces, although that doesn’t mean they’re not suffering.”

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